Thus, the above is not only important in terms of demographics and keeping Jerusalem united, but will also help alleviate the housing crunch that is driving young couples and others out of the city.
Reflecting the optimism that the above news has generated in many circles, the Young Generation for Jerusalem movement released this statement: “The ring neighborhoods are the city’s greatest land potential for Jerusalem’s development. These neighborhoods – Pisgat Ze’ev, N’vei Yaakov, French Hill, Ramat Eshkol, Ramat Shlomo, Maalot Dafna, Ramot, Armon HaNetziv, Talpiyot Mizrach, Homat Shmuel [Har Homa], Givat HaMatos and Gilo – are Jewish neighborhoods that will remain Israeli under whatever agreement. We call upon the government to develop these neighborhoods for the sake of the young generation here.”
The Givat HaMatos project is not to be confused with the 2,000 apartments whose speedy construction Prime Minister Netanyahu ordered earlier this month. These units, to be built in Jerusalem’s Har Homa and Ramot, as well as in Maaleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, are a welcome boost of morale, and the news was greeted happily throughout Israel.
We urge the government to cut through the bureaucracy and actually begin building in eastern Jerusalem as quickly as possible. What we need now is facts on the ground, for Netanyahu has essentially frozen government-initiated building in Jerusalem’s “new” neighborhoods ever since Obama’s demand to this effect two years ago.
In fact, Army Radio reported this week that despite all the headlines periodically generated regarding new construction in Israel’s capital, not even 1,500 new apartments have been built there in the past year. Of these, the largest number were in Har Homa – 417 permits – followed by Gilo (382) and Pisgat Ze’ev-N’vei Yaakov (nearly 370). Talpiyot Mizrach (260) and Ramot (53 new units in 2011) brought up the rear.
Our readers may not be able to directly influence the number of new apartments in Jerusalem, but there is a lot they can do in terms of learning about Jerusalem and becoming strong advocates against those who would give away its most precious parts to Arab control. For information on our bus tours in news-making areas of Jerusalem, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
Chaim Silberstein, formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism, is president of Keep Jerusalem–Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. Hillel Fendel is a longtime writer and editor on Israeli current events. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.