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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh yes there is a freeze in Jerusalem

How many times in the past several months have I told you that there is a de facto building freeze in 'east' Jerusalem? Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has now admitted it.
When he was asked in an Israel Radio interview for his position on extending the settlement housing-start moratorium so as not to derail the direct talks set to begin next week in Washington with the Palestinian Authority, Lieberman talked about the need to continue plans to develop 1,600 units in Jerusalem.

“Presently there are 1,000 housing units on the table in Ramot, another 600 housing units in neighborhoods like Gilo, east Talpiot, Har Homa and Pisgat Ze’ev. What, does someone expect that we will continue to freeze 1,600 housing units that went through all the [bureaucratic] procedures?” he asked.

All of the neighborhoods Lieberman mentioned are beyond the Green Line in Jerusalem.
And that's not counting the 1,600 in Ramat Shlomo (pictured) that were put on hold last March to keep the Obama administration happy.

But come September 26, if Netanyahu's cabinet doesn't change its mind, the Obama administration is going to be on what we Israelis call a 'plonter' (between a rock and a hard place in English). Recall that Dan Meridor - the most left-leaning non-Labor member of Netanyahu's cabinet - proposed that after September 26, Israel would continue the 'freeze' except in 'east' Jerusalem and in the 'settlement blocs.'
The US administration, however, has not led anyone to believe that even Meridor’s formula would be acceptable, since the view in Washington is widely believed to be that any building after September 26 would likely drive PA President Mahmoud Abbas away from the negotiating table, something Washington believes is not in anyone’s interest.
The only cabinet member who has come out in favor of continuing the freeze is Labor's Avishai Braverman, who said on Thursday that Labor should leave the government if there is no 'peace process.' There is almost no support for a full extension of the freeze.

What will Obama do on the 26th? Blame Israel for killing the 'peace process' when it tries to modify the freeze - and thereby throw in the towel on the midterm elections in the US? Or blame the 'Palestinians' for actually blowing the process up and thereby bring the 'peace process' to an end?

What could go wrong?


At 8:21 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel's refusal to extend the freeze is a matter of principle. The US and the Palestinians have known this would happen and they cannot say Israel has surprised them. If they want to bring it up in direct talks they are free to do so but no one in Israel wants to reward the Palestinians for being intransigent for over a year.

Israel may agree to a compromise if it receives something equivalent in exchange. But the days of massive unilateral Israeli concessions are over and this is something that still has yet to be absorbed by the Obama Administration and the Palestinians.

Jews are going to build in their land and in Jerusalem. Deal with it or shut up and get out of the room.


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