Despite screaming headlines proclaiming the Israeli government’s approval of hundreds of new Jewish homes in the strategic West Bank to be an act of defiance against U.S. and Palestinian demands, Arab countries and even the Palestinian Authority quietly recognize that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has sanctioned very few West Bank construction projects since coming to office.
“These new homes are just meat to be thrown to Netanyahu’s right wing base,” said a Jordanian government official, speaking to this column from the Middle East.
“Even the Palestinian Authority knows that since Netanyahu came to power, there have been less settlements constructed than during any other recent time period,” the Jordanian official said.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak this week signed permits needed to construct 455 new houses in West Bank Jewish communities. The new housing was approved by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu despite U.S. President Obama’s demand for a total halt to Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern sections of Jerusalem.
However, contrary to public claims by the Palestinian Authority that Israel’s reported approval of some 455 new Jewish homes in the West Bank is a major escalation in settlement construction, there has actually been a decrease in Jewish construction in that area under Netanyahu.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s government allowed thousands of homes per year to be built in the West Bank. Even Barak, whose tenure was marked by extreme concessions to the Palestinians, oversaw a large expansion of Jewish communities in the West Bank.
Wary Of Iran, Saudi Arabia Turns To Israel
Saudi Arabia is cooperating with Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue, an Egyptian intelligence official told this column.
The official said Saudi Arabia is passing intelligence information to Israel and that, as widely reported by the Arab media, the country has granted Israel over-flight permission during any attack against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The official previously said Saud Al-Faisal, the Saudi foreign minister, has been involved in an intense, behind-the-scenes lobbying effort urging the U.S. and other Western countries to do everything necessary to ensure Iran does not obtain nuclear weapons. Such weapons would threaten Saudi Arabia’s position of influence in the Middle East.
Madonna ‘Re-energized’ by Israel Tour
Wrapping up her latest world tour in Israel, pop icon Madonna described the Jewish state as the “energy capital of the world.”
“It’s so good to be here,” she told a standing-room-only crowd of about 50,000 screaming fans.
“I was here a little while ago, but I did not perform then. I shouldn’t have stayed away so long. It won’t happen again. Every time I come here I feel re-energized. I believe that Israel is the energy capital of the world.”
Madonna was last in Israel in 2007 as part of a Kaballah tour.
“If we can live together in harmony in this place, we can live in peace all over the world,” Madonna said at today’s concert, referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Aaron Klein is Jerusalem bureau chief for WorldNetDaily.com. He appears throughout the week on leading U.S. radio programs and is the author of the book “The Late Great State of Israel.” Follow Klein on Twitter under the name “AaronKleinWND.”