This deadline has long since passed – probably the result of hints from Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, which always wishes to avoid tensions with the Quartet. In any event, City Legal Counsel Amnon Merhav threatened to take the matter to the Supreme Court, after which the District Committee reportedly caved in and said it would, in fact, place the project on its agenda.
What is particularly noteworthy is the international community’s reaction.
The U.S. State Department announced that Israel’s advancement of the plan makes it harder to hold direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This, despite the fact that two years ago, Israel froze all construction in Judea and Samaria for ten long months in the hope of enticing the PA to direct talks; the PA refused, and now demands that Israel freeze construction again, this time indefinitely, as a prerequisite for direct talks.
As far as the UN is concerned, it seems that Israel’s intention to bridge the generations by rebuilding a 3,000-year-old Jewish landmark has no positive significance. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon simply called the plan “illegal.” In this context, let us quote Harvard Prof. Alan Dershowitz at a recent Touro-Hudson Conference:
“One important reason why there is no peace in the Middle East can be tragically summarized in two letters: U and N [the United Nations]…. Back in 1975, when between 2 and 3 million Cambodians were being murdered by Pol Pot, the UN was devoting all of its time to debating whether Zionism was racism, and did not spend one single session in trying to stop the bloodshed in Cambodia…. Several decades later, when there were genocides in Rwanda and Dharfour, the UN was busy debating the construction of houses on the West Bank…. The UN has, for 40 years, rewarded Palestinian terrorism by enhancing the status of Palestine while Arafat and Hamas were openly implementing the murder of Jewish civilians as a matter of governmental policy.”
We hold out little hope that the UN will change its spots in the near future – but we can at least hope that Jews around the world will seek to learn the truth. Out of roughly 9 million Jews in the world outside Israel, only a few hundred thousand visit Israel annually. We invite you to remind your acquaintances and family of the importance of doing so, and we will be happy to host them, and you, on bus tours of critical parts of Jerusalem.
Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem–Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel is a long-time writer and editor. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.