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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Shhhh.... Ramat Shlomo plan approved

Remember Ramat Shlomo? Well, guess what happened on Tuesday:
The building plan for Ramat Shlomo in Jerusalem that raised Washington's ire several months ago whe U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was on a visit here has been approved by the Jerusalem District Building and Planning Commission. The plan was held up until Tuesday at the request of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office, which has now given a green light for the project. Residents of the area can now file complaints on the plan, and after the complaints are addressed, the plan will be given final approval and construction can move ahead.
There was silence from the US about it on Tuesday. On Wednesday morning, Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren was interviewed on the morning news magazine. He said that Americans were too busy with the Gulf oil spill to notice.

But I think there's more to it than that. When I was in the US two weeks ago, every time I mentioned Ramat Shlomo, I got blank stares. Americans are so used to hearing things in sound bites that if it wasn't on TV in the last week, they've forgotten it. And besides, the approval may not mean much anyway.
It remained unclear on Tuesday evening whether the move, which the ministry said is merely a technical procedure regarding an already-approved housing plan, would reignite tensions with US officials, who were quick to voice their frustrations with the plan three months ago. Their strong criticism, together with pressure that followed the announcement, are believed to have been among the main factors that led to the “de-facto freeze” that has brought nearly all construction in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem to a standstill.

Nonetheless – and despite the Obama administration’s ongoing resistance to such construction – the planning committee convened on Tuesday and approved the Ramat Shlomo protocol, which effectively validates the building plan. The next phase in the long bureaucratic process will allow the public to register opposition to the plan, which could further delay the proceedings.

City Councilman Yair Gabai, who is a member of the committee, told reporters on Tuesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had stalled further deliberations on the plan because of the presence in the region of US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, as per his role as mediator in the proximity talks. He added that the prime minister had been wary of “an additional crisis with the US.” Netanyahu told the US during the March crisis that despite the approval of the plan, the building would not begin for at least two years Gabai praised the plan as “the first in a series of essential developments that will add to the prosperity of Jerusalem, help curb emigration from the capital, and strengthen Israeli sovereignty in all parts of the city.”
But the 'Palestinians' haven't forgotten Ramat Shlomo and they are not pleased.
But PA Minister of National Economy Hassan Abu Libda told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that he saw the development as a resumption of settlement activity.

“This is a breach of a commitment that was given to the United States and the Quartet and the International community to place a moratorium on settlement activities in the West Bank and Jerusalem for 10 months,” Abu Libda said. “This is a direct breach and this is a very serious punch to the proximity talks.”

The minister added that such actions were making it “more and more difficult” for the PA to convince its constituency that the proximity talks would bear fruit.

“I believe the issue of settlement activities is very, very serious,” he said. “On the Israeli side it may satisfy I don’t know how many settlers, but on the Palestinian side it is undermining, in a strategic way, the ability of the PA to represent the interests of the Palestinian people, and the PA will not be able to continue business as usual.”

Abu Libda stressed that the PA “condemn[ed]” the development.

“We think it is counterproductive and contrary to the interests of the two peoples,” he said, “and is going to harm the possibility of creating the required constructive environment to rebuild any kind of trust that will enable the resumption of direct talks.”
Except that Israel never made any commitment to stop 'settlement activity' in Jerusalem, right Bibi?

What could go wrong?


At 8:14 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Besides it will take at least two more years before any construction happens in a neighborhood in which NO Palestinians live - and which is therefore NONE of the PA's business. Where Israel builds in Jerusalem should be no body else's business, period.

At 1:05 AM, Blogger ais cotten19 said...

Let the Pals cut off peace talks. I am in favor of more settlements, anywhere and everywhere throughout Israel. Also, I am opposed to the government continuing the peace process with the "Palestinians". I don't care if Israel gets a bad rap because of it. Israel has to support the settler movement, its only hope for long term survival. However, Israel goes into peace talks and pretends that reining in the settler movement is in it's best interests. In this case, Israel is trying to argue that building in Jerusalem should be more palatable than building in Hebron. It's better to just be honest; they're both fine cities to build in. At any rate the whole world hates Israel no matter what they do.


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