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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Israel backing off new housing units

Washington is awake, Condi has scolded her puppet Prime Minister in Tel Aviv Jerusalem and Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert is backing off.
The Housing Ministry's decision to go forward with plans to build a new 10,000-unit neighborhood near Atarot in east Jerusalem is a mistake, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday.

According to the sources, quoted by Army Radio, the time was not right to make such proposals due to the Palestinian negotiating track and US objection to any building in east Jerusalem.

Earlier, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev downplayed the significance of the plan. "There has been no decision taken, and there is nothing new," he said.

Housing and Construction Minister Ze'ev Boim said that his ministry had carried out a "preliminary check", which was motivated by the housing crunch in Jewish neighborhoods. A plan to build thousands of homes on parkland in west Jerusalem, inside Israel, was torpedoed recently by environmental groups, and Boim said that left Israel no choice but to build in east Jerusalem.


Even if the planning process moves past the preliminary stage, it will take years for construction to begin. But Palestinians immediately criticized the move, saying it compromised the newly launched peace talks.


Deputy Premier Haim Ramon said he opposed Boim's initiative. It "doesn't help the negotiations and especially our international standing and the international support, especially from the US, which we are striving for at the start of negotiations," he said.

Boim acknowledged the timing was "sensitive," but said that was no reason to freeze his office's activities. "The sensitivity is understood, but we must say that unfortunately since Jerusalem was declared Israel's capital there has been no time without similar sensitivities," Boim said.
I guess in Jerusalem, we don't even get 'natural growth.'

Okay folks, did any of you really believe Olmert would stand up to his masters and build in Atarot? Not for one New York minute....

Update 10:50 PM

The site where the apartments were to/are to be built was a Moshav (Jewish agricultural village) during the pre-State period.

Atarot's land was owned by Jews since the early 1900s.

The new neighborhood will consist of 10,000-15,000 housing units – constituting the largest neighborhood built in Jerusalem’s eastern side since it was liberated in 1967. It is adjacent to the Atarot Industrial Zone, Jerusalem’s largest industrial park, with 160 factories and businesses.

In 1914, the site was settled by Zionist youth of the Second Aliyah, including Levi Eshkol, who later served as Prime Minister. They erected a communal farm called Moshav Atarot, which was destroyed by the Jordanians during the 1948 War of Independence and the land occupied for the next 19 years.

Following the 1967 Six Day War, Atarot was returned to Jewish hands. A British air strip built atop the Jewish farmland during the British Mandate became the Atarot Airport, Jerusalem’s only civilian air strip.

After Yitzhak Rabin's government created the Palestinian Authority and granted it tens of thousands of assault rifles, sniper fire forced the airport to close down at the start of the Oslo War in 2000.

The master plan for the neighborhood reportedly includes a tunnel linking it to the Binyamin community of Tel Zion.


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