Israel's New Plans for East Jerusalem That Shook America
by Nadene Goldfoot
Israel has a big brother by the name of America, and the news on TV was full of condemnation for this tiny country today who thought it was a free democratic state. Come to find out, big brother thinks it's in the driver's seat.
That's what happened when Vice President Joe Biden came to visit and announced support for Israel's security today. Hours later Israel's Interior Ministry announced a no no-1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. (This was announced on NBC at 5:40pm as 1,600 settlements in East Jerusalem.) There's a huge difference, NBC.
The problem may lie in the fact that back on 25 November, 2009, Netanyahu's cabinet came up with a policy of restraint regarding settlements which included a suspension of new permits and new construction in Judea and Samaria for the length of 10 months. They didn't really like to do this but for the deep desire for peace, they went along with big brother and others' wishes. They also said they wouldn't expropriate more land for existing settlements. Netanyahu also said he promised to see to it that normal life could continue for the 300,000 Israel citizens who live in Judea and Samaria. These two places are called the West Bank by the West. Israel calls the area by its names. As for Jerusalem, the capital, Israel's position is well known. They have not put any restrictions on building in their sovereign capital. Israel is committed to protect freedom of worship for all faiths and ensure equal and fair treatment for all, Jews and Arab. NOTICE THAT THERE WAS NO PROMISE OR ACCORD FOR JERUSALEM.
Now, on March 7, 2010, the cabinet came up with another decision about the temporary suspension of new construction in Judea and Samaria. Netanyahu approved the outline for compensating those that were adversely affected by the decision. They set uniform criteria for providing compensation:
1. To those who purchased apartments
2. To contractors and those with building permits
3. One-time compensation to those local council that were adversely affected by the decision.
Today the Jerusalem Post also told its citizens that the US slams new J'lem homes. These 1,600 homes, not settlements, are new housing units for young Haredi families in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Our brother said that the timing of the decision undermines the peace process that he is trying to revive. Biden's statement was very harsh and critical, coming on the eve of a new round of US-mediated peace talks. Of course the White House's Robert Gibbs condemned the announcement, too.
In defense, Israel's Interior Ministry said that the plan
had been in the works for over three years. There really was no connection to Joe Biden's visit to Israel.
The timing may have been poor, but are there any accidents? Isn't life synchronistic at times?
In June 2008, Israel's interior ministry approved construction of an additional 1,300 apartments in Ramat Shlomo. Israel says that most of the building is on land annexed by the state and thus does not violate its commitment not to build on disputed land.
I looked at another neighborhood in East Jerusalem known as Sheikh Jarrah or Shimon Hatzaddik. It's just north of the Old City. Once it was of historical significance to Jews, was violently conquered, settled by foreign Arabs, and now has been reclaimed by Jews. In 1936 the neighborhood was attacked by Arab rioters and later conquered by the Arab Legion in 1948, then annexed to Jordan in 1950. The Jordanians allowed Arab families to occupy abandoned Jewish homes. When Israel retook the area in 1967, the group that originally had bought the land began trying to evict Arab tenants and resettle the neighborhood with Jews. Now it's an issue with everyone.
We've had a lot of fighting over this tiny piece of land. Israel was conquered by Rome in 64 BCE says the Jerusalem Post. I thought it was finally conquered by Rome in 70 AD with the fall of Jerusalem. Anyway, then came Arabians of the Islamic Caliphate who wanted the land. We kept trying to recover our property. Everytime we were slaughtered and expelled. From 1800's on we've dealt with the Balfour Declaration and San Remo Conferences, giving us high hopes of regaining our country. There's been opposition every time.
The prime minister of Turkey Saturday encouraged Arabs to riot because of Israel's wanting the religious sites in Hebron and Bethlehem on a list of sites slated for restoration in order to keep them preserved. We've been going to these sites even at great peril depending on the period since the Second Temple days. He doesn't see our religious need or interest.
Such outlandish attitudes is why many in Israel feel that they need to give their complete support to the residents of Shimon Hatzaddik today. A free country with free people should be able to visit such places freely. Jerusalem is still the capital of Israel. Whatever would King David and King Solomon say about all this?
Wikipedia on Ramat Shlomo-added 3/10/10
http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA listed 3/11/2010