In Jerusalem, as has long been reported – and ignored – a de-facto construction freeze continues to be enforced. In the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood, of all places, where that famous pre-Mishnaic sage is buried and which was purchased by a joint body of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jewry in 1876, a government official has acknowledged that “political pressure” is preventing construction.
In a letter last month to KeepJerusalem president Chaim Silberstein, a top assistant to the interior minister wrote that “diplomatic considerations” are holding up Jewish construction in the capital. He explained that this is why the Regional Zoning Board has not yet held hearings on a modest Jewish construction plan of six apartments in the neighborhood. At the same time, of course, Arab construction there has been given the necessary approvals.
The construction freeze in 2010 caused untold economic damage in Israel, including rising housing prices throughout Israel, losses to builders and real estate agents, and a slowdown in related industries.
In short, logic, denials, and Israel’s interests notwithstanding, it appears that when the dust settles after Obama’s upcoming visit, Israel’s housing market is very likely to take a big hit – not to mention the country’s grasp over Judea and Samaria. In the knowledge that our abandonment of Gaza in 2005 led to thousands of rockets and two mini-wars, it is important to remember that Israel’s hold on Judea and Samaria – beginning with Jewish housing there – is similarly critical.
To take part in bus tours of critical parts of Jerusalem, or to receive updates on the battle to keep Yerushalayim, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech at www.keepjerusalem.org.