View Full Version : Israel defies US demand to halt housing project in Occupied East Jerusalem

Magda Hassan
07-20-2009, 01:31 PM
I wonder if anything will be done about this? A line in the sand or not?

Amy Teibel
Associated Press
OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: Israel Sunday rejected a US demand to suspend a planned housing project in Occupied East Jerusalem, threatening to further complicate an unusually tense standoff with its strongest ally over settlement construction. Israeli officials said the country's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, was summoned to the State Department over the weekend and told that a project being developed by an American millionaire in the disputed section of the holy city should not go ahead.
Settlements built on captured lands claimed by the Palestinians have emerged as a major sticking point in relations between Israel and the Obama administration because of their potential to disrupt Mideast peacemaking.
Although Premier Benjamin Netanyahu recently yielded to heavy US pressure to endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state, he has resisted American demands for an immediate freeze on settlement expansion.
Netanyahu told his cabinet Sunday there would be no limits on Jewish construction anywhere in "unified Jerusalem."
"We cannot accept the fact that Jews wouldn't be entitled to live and buy anywhere in Jerusalem," Netanyahu declared, calling Israeli sovereignty over the entire city "indisputable."
"I can only imagine what would happen if someone suggested Jews could not live in certain neighborhoods in New York, London, Paris or Rome. There would certainly be a major international outcry," Netanyahu said.
The international community considers Jewish neighborhoods in Occupied East Jerusalem to be settlements and an obstacle to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking because they complicate a possible division of the city. Israel does not regard them as settlements because it annexed East Jerusalem after capturing the area in 1967. The annexation has not been recognized internationally.
Occupied East Jerusalem is an especially volatile issue because it is the site of key Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites.
The Palestinians want the traditionally Arab sector of the city to be the capital of their future state.
Speaking Sunday in New Delhi, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the administration was trying to reach an agreement with the Israelis on settlements. "The negotiations are intense. They are ongoing," she said.
Israel wants agreement to proceed with some construction to allow for what it claims is "natural growth" in the existing settler population.
Nearly 300,000 Israelis live in Occupied West Bank settlements, in addition to about 180,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods in Occupied East Jerusalem.
The new Jerusalem project is being funded by Irving Moskowitz, a millionaire bingo magnate from Florida and supporter of Israeli settlement in East Jerusalem who has funded similar construction projects in the past. Moskowitz purchased the Shepherd Hotel in 1985 and plans to tear it down and build apartments in its place.
The approval, granted by the Jerusalem municipality earlier this month, allows for the construction of 20 apartments plus a three-level underground parking lot. The Jerusalem municipality issued a statement saying the purchase was legal.
The head of Israel's Shin Bet internal security service, Yuval Diskin, told ministers at Sunday's cabinet meeting that both the Western-backed administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the militant Islamic Hamas were carrying out "covert activity" in Occupied East Jerusalem to stop Jews acquiring property there.

An official present at the meeting, speaking on condition of anonymity, quoted Diskin as saying that hardline Egyptian cleric Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi had earmarked $25 million to be funneled to Hamas activists in Occupied Jerusalem. Qaradawi is a well-known figure in the Arab world and a regular on the satellite Al-Jazeera network.
Diskin told the Cabinet that the money was to be used by Hamas to buy apartments and plots of land and "build charitable institutions to broaden its base in the city," the official said. Diskin did not provide evidence. Israel considers Hamas a terrorist group and bars it from operating in Occupied Jerusalem.
Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said Jewish expansion in Occupied East Jerusalem jeopardizes peace efforts. The Palestinians have refused to restart peace talks until Israel halts all settlement expansion.
Peace talks are also hampered by the division among Palestinians. Abbas' government operates in West Bank, while the Gaza Strip is ruled by Hamas.
Diskin claimed that foreign nationals linked to the global jihad movement have infiltrated Gaza, according to the official.
There had been "a steady trickle into Gaza of foreigners linked to global jihad," Diskin said. He did not elaborate or cite evidence, and the Shin Bet would not comment further.
Dismissing Diskin's charge as "baseless propaganda," Hamas' Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said: " There is no Al-Qaeda or any other organization in Gaza."
l RAMALLAH, Occupied West Bank: Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad made a fresh appeal on the US Saturday for a plan and a timetable aimed at resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
"I call anew on the United States to come up with a plan and a timetable for its application that will contribute to put an end to Jewish settlements and Israeli offensives, and lead to serious negotiations," Fayyad said.
In a speech at the Qalandiya refugee camp he also said that the international community must bear its responsibilities in pushing Israel to respects its peace commitments.
"Israel is turning its back on international legitimacy," he told hundreds of Palestinian refugees in the camp between the Occupied West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem.
Palestinian-Israeli peace talks relaunched at a US-hosted conference in Annapolis, Maryland, in November 2008 have been frozen since the end of 2008.
During a landmark speech in Cairo in June, US President Barack Obama pledged to forge a state for Palestinians and rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to halt West Bank settlement expansion.
At the time Fayyad said that he saw "hope" for a new era in the speech.
Last week the hawkish Netanyahu invited Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to meet him in order to restart the stalled peace negotiations.
But the Palestinians have said they will not resume talks unless Israel freezes all Jewish settlement activity in the occupied West Bank in line with US demands.
The presence of more than 280,000 Jewish settlers in communities across the West Bank and another 200,000 in mostly Arab East Jerusalem has been a major stumbling block in past peace negotiations. - AFP

Mark Stapleton
07-21-2009, 02:23 AM
Yes, it looks like Obama is making a stand on the Moskowitz project so it's a line in the sand for Israel and the US. It's a good call by Obama, imo. He can see what Israel is trying to do. It's being used as a trojan horse to jewify the Arab sector of the city.

The problem for Obama is that, with typical arrogance, Israel doesn't accept the right of the UN, US or anyone else to have a say in what should happen in Jerusalem. They ignore the fact that the original partition plan passed by the UN General Assembly in 1947 recognised the city as one of religious significance to both Jews and Arabs, and thus to be administered by the UN. Freedom of worship and movement etc. was the utopian ideal. Israel was granted their homeland by UN resolution but have virtually ignored all UN resolutions since then.

It's easy to wise after the fact, but Ben-Gurion was making speeches as far back as the 1930's claiming that the proposed Jewish state would never accept joint governance.

Judging by the blogs in the JP and other Israeli newspapers, the people of Israel are almost as fanatical as Netanyahu and his colleagues, so I can't see Israel backing down. The ball's in Obama's court now. What a horrible mess he has inherited.