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September 27, 2016 / 24 Elul, 5776
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State Dept. Comments Show Kerry Is Israel’s Housing Minister

Move over Uri Ariel. Netanyahu has replaced you with John Kerry. No new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria are approved without the confirmation of the Obama administration.
John Kerry, Israel's de facto Housing Minister and Mahmoud Abbas' de facto negotiator

John Kerry, Israel's de facto Housing Minister and Mahmoud Abbas' de facto negotiator

State Dept. comments the past two week have made it clear that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu does not initiate any moves for building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria without the approval of  U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

After Israel announced plans to build approximately 1.500 new residential units in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria after it freed the second of four batches of terrorists in return for the privilege of arguing  directly with the Palestinian Authority, Kerry told reporters that although the United States does not approve of the building, “That is not to say that they weren’t aware, or we weren’t aware, that there would be construction. But that construction, importantly, in our judgment, would be much better off limited as much as possible in an effort to help create a climate for these talks to be able to proceed effectively.”

After Tuesday’s reports that Housing Minister Uri Ariel had hired an architect to draw up plans for 1,500 more residential units, including the controversial E-1 area in the city of Maaleh Adumim, State Dept. Jen Psaki told reporters, “We are deeply concerned by these latest reports that over 20,000 additional units are in the early planning stages. We were surprised by these announcements and are currently seeking further explanation from the Government of Israel.”

Asked if she expected a “heads up” from Israel before the announcement, Psaki explained, “Well, we were not – it was not an issue discussed in advance.“

But as Kerry implied last week, the State Dept. in the past has known about now building plans

One reporter told Psaki, “I remember you all said these were already announced long ago or whatever, even though they were coming at a time when the negotiations were just getting going. You said, ‘No, no, no. We knew about these, they were coming and everything was fine.’ Is this the first time that a new one has come along that was not part of that initial forewarning?”

Checkmate.

Psaki tried to get out of the corner. “I don’t recall us specifying which ones we were surprised and not surprised about. The Secretary did say last week, to your point, that it wasn’t a surprise that we knew there would be more announcements. So I don’t recall us specifying that with the different announcements. I’m not saying we knew about every other one, we just didn’t know about this one in advance.”

Clearly, Prime Minister Netanyahu told the State Dept. about the new building that was announced after more terrorists were freed two weeks ago. Clearly, he did not tell Washington about Ariel’s plans. The Prime Minister quickly pinned back Ariel’s ears, and the Housing Minister said he acquiesced to the big boss’ “request.”

All of the fuss over Ariel’s announcement, as usual, ignored the facts. He did not announce that new homes would be built tomorrow. All he did was state the lengthy bureaucratic procedure would start from square one. It would take approximately five to seven years before homes would be ready.

But the very thought of Israel even dreaming of building on what the United States wants to be part of the Palestinian Authority is enough sideline Kerry’s “peace talks,” a total misnomer because there is little talk and it is not about peace.

It is about how the Obama administration can force Israel to accept Abbas’ demands by pretending to be a mediator but acting on behalf of Abbas. If it doesn’t, he will go the United Nations for what he wants, and that would mean President Obama can’t be part of the action to justify his having received the Nobel Peace Prize.

That is why Kerry, besides being Secretary of State, also has the unofficial positions of Israel’s de facto Housing Minister and the Palestinian Authority’s de facto senior negotiator.

It is no  wonder that Saeb Erekat and his cohort Mohammed Shatayehh turned in their resignations Wednesday. They really don’t have much work to do because Kerry handles the load very nicely.

Ariel has not yet quit as Housing Minster.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.


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