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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

No crisis? US openly criticizes construction in Gilo

Israel is claiming that there is 'no crisis' in its relations with the United States after blunt American criticism of housing construction in Gilo, a neighborhood of southern Jerusalem that is within the city limits.
Netanyahu's associates attempted to minimize the implications of the American and British criticism following the plan to expand the neighborhood, which is located beyond the Green Line, hinting that the Americans must clarify in public why they oppose the construction.

"The Americans know very well that the Israeli agreement to freeze the construction does not include Jerusalem," one of the sources said.

The aides chose to address the American response only, ignoring the even harsher criticism voiced by Britain. "The Americans are well aware of the prime minister's stand on the matter, and therefore it would be a mistake to refer to the Americans' statements as a crisis. There are things that are not seen by everyone," one of the sources said, expressing his confidence that the tension would be over within a week.

The Prime Minister's Office said in a statement that the approval issued by the regional construction and planning committee was a routine procedure. "Building permits in Jerusalem's municipal borders, as in Israel's other cities like Tel Aviv and Jaffa, do not reach the prime minister's table."

The statement added that "the Gilo neighborhood is an integral part of Jerusalem, just like Ramot Eshkol, Rehavia, the French Hill, and Pisgat Ze'ev. [While these are closer to city center neighborhoods, the latter two are also over the green line, Rehavia is within the former city limits and Ramat Eshkol is in what was no man's land. CiJ] There is a broad national agreement on this matter. The construction in Gilo has been going on for decades, and there is nothing new in the current planning and construction procedures."

The state officials hinted that the remarks made by Washington were simply a show. "The Americans want the entire issue of the territories to be clarified in the permanent agreement, and don't want the sides – mainly Israel – to create facts on the ground. However, Israel's stand on the matter is unequivocal – Jerusalem will not be part of any discussion on reducing construction," one of the sources said.
Obama's not going to let up on this, but given the broad consensus within Israel, I doubt Israelis are going to yield to Obama on it either. A year from now, if election results favor the Republicans, maybe Obama will be forced to let up, but for now, we Israelis are going to have to live with this criticism without getting all hysterical about it. While Obama may want to make a radical change in US relations with Israel, it's doubtful that he has the support in Congress or in American public opinion to make it.


At 3:59 PM, Blogger Andre (Canada) said...

As Sarah Palin might have said, "build, baby, build"!

At 4:59 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Obama and Hillary are well aware that Israel's agreement to a partial freeze did NOT include Jerusalem or the existing "settlement blocs." Criticizing Israel is not going to regain US credibility in Arab eyes.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger #15 said...

# The only valid legal framework between the Israelis and the Palestinians remains the 1995 Interim Agreement, which represents the source of authority for the existence of the Palestinian governance and its component institutions. The Interim Agreement established that: "Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the Permanent Status negotiations."



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