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The Housing Freeze: What Netanyahu Should Tell Kerry

Keeping-Jerusalem

Asked for examples, he started reciting: “The IDF Colleges between Mt. Scopus and the Mt. of Olives…two small projects in the Shimon HaTzaddik neighborhood, as well as a large one there of 350 units…The 1,500 units in Ramat Shlomo, in addition to about 600 units on private property in northern Ramat Shlomo…Near Herod’s Gate, within the Old City walls, a project of 30 units is being held up…900 units in Gilo…”

“It’s important for U.S. Jewry to speak up and pressure our government,” Gabbai said, “to continue building Jerusalem intensively and widely. If not, the demographics will work against us – we’re losing some 8,000 Jerusalemites a year because of housing problems and we will risk losing the city.”

Former MK Yaakov Katz, who served as the Housing Ministry’s director-general under then-Housing Minister Ariel Sharon in the Shamir government, says housing prices in Jerusalem have risen by a frightening 24 percent since late last summer. The greater Jerusalem area, with its municipal population of over 800,000 and another few hundred thousand in the surrounding areas, is home to possibly 15 percent of the country’s population. “Is it any wonder, then,” he asked, “that housing prices throughout the country are skyrocketing?”

Katz noted that the haredi-religious sector alone registers 7,500 weddings a year – “and each one of them involves a new apartment as part of the deal.” True, Jerusalem registered a significant jump in building starts in the first quarter of 2013 – but not in the places or in the quantities that matter. Building a few hundred luxury apartments in downtown Jerusalem does not solve the problem. What must be done is to build expansively in the only areas of Jerusalem with plenty of room to build: those that were freed from Jordanian control during the Six-Day War.

Incidentally, recent scare headlines blaring of “176 percent Construction Growth in Yesha” need not fool us. The finer print in the reports tell us that there were only a minuscule 313 housing starts throughout Yesha in the last quarter of 2012, and that these “ballooned” to 865 in the next quarter – still very few for the 360,000 Jews living there.

What is needed is a meltdown of the construction freeze in Yesha and Jerusalem – and the quicker the better for all concerned.

Ways you can help keep Jerusalem Jewish and Israeli: Visit, organize parlor meetings and rallies, bring speakers to your synagogue, write letters to the editor or for a synagogue bulletin board – and take part in KeepJerusalem’s bus tours in news-making areas of Jerusalem. For information on these options, send an e-mail to tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

About the Author: 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, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.


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9 Responses to “The Housing Freeze: What Netanyahu Should Tell Kerry”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    "U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has repeatedly reprimanded Israel for continuing to build in Yesha, no matter how slowly and insufficiently."

    Nine US Presidents have opposed building settlements in Yesha, starting with Lyndon Johnson in 1968. The US policy isn't going to change and Israel might as well get used to it.

  2. Joseph Friedman says:

    Bush 43 supported Israeli settlements, correct?

  3. Charlie Hall says:

    The idea that Bush 43 supported settlements is a fiction invented by partisan Republican liars in the US. The record proves that is a falsehood.

  4. Joseph Friedman says:

    The first two articles seem to be referring to "unauthorized" settlements that were built in contradiction to Israeli Law and even Israel said they had to be dismantled in accordance with the law. The third article seems to refer to a "roadmap" proposal regarding closing settlements; not a U.S. demand that settlements be dismantled.

  5. Myriam Obadia says:

    Since, up to now, the Arab US allies do as they wish, no matter what the US say, and continue to receive $$$$$, why not do the same? Say "Yes Sir" and proceed as we wish. Will the US "punish us"? Heck no! They know all too well that we're their only foothold in the Middle East anyway.

  6. Charlie Hall says:

    From the Road Map:

    " Israel also freezes all settlement activity"

    That doesn't mean just "unauthorized" settlement activity. That means everything.

    And it often takes years for the Israeli government to remove the "unauthorized" Jewish settlements. Unauthorized Arab settlements, however, can sometimes get removed in days. This hurts Israel's credibility, badly.

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