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Friday, June 28, 2013


The State's Attorney's office informed the Supreme Court on Thursday that the government plans to present plans to build 40 new homes in Nokdim, which is part of the Gush Etzion bloc but outside the 'security fence.' The announcement was made in court a few hours before US Secretary of State John FN Kerry arrived in Israel, leading the media to imply that the timing was intended to impair the goals of Kerry's visit. The court responded by issuing an injunction against continuing the construction of 14 of the 40 homes, which had been started two years ago. Coincidences? Maybe.
News of the pending authorizations was first published by Army Radio on Thursday, hours before Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was due to meet with US Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss possibilities for resuming peace talks.
The Palestinians have refused to negotiate directly with Israel until it halts West Bank settlement activity and Jewish building in east Jerusalem. Israel has refused to accede to that request. Kerry is looking to break the impasse.


Deputy Foreign Minister Ze’ev Elkin told Army Radio that news of the plans broke as a result of the project’s legal situation and had nothing to do with Kerry’s visit.
Legal matters cannot be dependent on the diplomatic agenda or visits from foreign dignitaries, Elkin said, adding that Netanyahu’s last government established a policy to authorize Jewish West Bank construction when possible, particularly if it was on state land.
...[Gush Etzion regional council chairman Davidi] Perl noted that if the council approves the plans, the 14 homes would be retroactively authorized.
A spokesman for Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that the 40-home project was on state land. He added that former defense minister Ehud Barak had given initial approvals to the project.


The Gush Etzion Regional Council reacted angrily to the court’s decision to issue a temporary injunction against the 14 homes.
It charged that the court acquiesced to a baseless petition against a project on state land located within Nokdim’s municipal boundaries.
My guess is that the timing was fortuitous, but the government was happy to let it go ahead to show the 'Palestinians' that they have something to lose through their stubborn refusal to negotiate. After all, if the can make Israel stop building forever simply by demanding a freeze, why should they ever come to the table?

What could go wrong?

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