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May 4, 2016 / 26 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Gilo’

Blaming Israel to Preserve a Theory

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry was in London last week, trying to sweet talk Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas into talking peace again with Israel. But the main front in the peace process appears to be in Washington where the State Department is still spinning the collapse of Kerry’s initiative and placing the primary fault for the failure of his fool’s errand on Israel.

While Kerry fired the initial shots of this campaign himself when he had his “poof” moment at a Senate hearing at which he claimed Israel housing construction announcements had ended the negotiations, it was then continued by an in-depth interview given by American officials (widely and credibly attributed to Kerry’s envoy Martin Indyk) to Yediot Aharonoth in which the Netanyahu government was thoroughly trashed and Abbas’s intransigence rationalized. But not satisfied with that, Kerry’s aides are back reinforcing their attacks on Israel this week helping to generate stories in both the New York Times and the Washington Post.

The point of the press barrage appears not, as with previous assaults on the Israelis, to pressure them to make more concessions to the Palestinians in future talks since, as the Times noted, the president seems to have no interest in sticking his neck out further on behalf of an effort that has no chance to succeed. Rather, the continued talk about settlements being the obstacle to peace seems to have two purposes. One is to defend Kerry’s reputation against accurate criticisms of his decision to waste so much time and effort on a negotiation that was always doomed to fail. The other is that the administration peace processors who largely repeated the same mistakes made by the Clinton administration during the Oslo period with regard to the Palestinians feel compelled to justify their behavior by blaming Israel. The problem with the focus on settlements is not just that it is both inaccurate and out of context but that railing at Israeli building is the only way to preserve belief in a theory about attaining Middle East peace that has failed again.

It cannot be emphasized enough that most of the discussion about the settlements from administration sources and their cheerleaders in the press is not only wrongheaded but also deliberately misleading. A perfect example of that came Thurdsay in David Ignatius’ column in the Post in which he writes:

The issue of Israeli settlements humiliated the Palestinian negotiators and poisoned the talks, according to statements by U.S. negotiators. When Israel announced 700 new settlements in early April, before the April 29 deadline for the talks, “Poof, that was sort of the moment,” Kerry told a Senate panel.

Phrased that way, it certainly sounds egregious. But Israel didn’t announce the start up 700 new settlements. It authorized 700 new apartments in Gilo, a 40-year-old Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem that no one, not even the Palestinians, expects would be given to them in even a prospective peace treaty more to their liking than the Israelis.

Israel has built almost no new “settlements,” i.e. brand new towns, villages or cities in the West Bank since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993 and claiming anything different isn’t just wrong, it’s a deliberate attempt to poison the atmosphere against the Jewish state. Later in the day, the Post corrected that line to read “settlement apartments,” but the intent to deceive on the part of Ignatius was clear.

More to the point, both Ignatius and the latest op-ed mislabeled as a news story by Times White House correspondent Mark Landler, note their narratives of Israeli perfidy but fail to highlight that it was Netanyahu who agreed to Kerry’s framework for further peace talks and Abbas who turned the U.S. down. It was Abbas who refused to budge an inch during the talks even though Israel’s offers of territorial withdrawal constitute a fourth peace offer including independence that the Palestinians have turned down in the last 15 years. His decision to embrace Hamas in a unity pact rather than make peace with Israel sealed the end of Kerry’s effort, not announcements of new apartments in Jerusalem.

Jonathan S. Tobin

The Elephant And The Sand Castle

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Why is there no peace in the Middle East?

“There are a lot of reasons for the [recent] peace effort’s failure,” writes Israeli analyst Nachum Barnea on Ynet, but “the primary sabotage came from the settlements.” This is the conclusion of unnamed “senior American officials involved in Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace push” who talked with Barnea.

Just curious: Did the Arab side agree to live in peace with Israel before there was a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, such as in 1948? Did the Arabs accept Israel in 1964 when the PLO was established with the objective of destroying Israel? (Hint: They didn’t.)

“From the U.S. perspective,” Barnea writes, “the issue of the settlements was largely to blame” for the breakdown of talks. The officials said they couldn’t understand why Israel rejected Abbas’s demand for a three-month freeze on settlement construction. “Why is it such a big deal?” they innocently asked.

It’s questions like that that make it hard to believe that Barnea was actually talking to “senior” officials who were truly “involved” in the peace talks. Don’t they remember what happened the last time Israel agreed to a construction freeze in Judea and Samaria? Not only did it nearly drain Israel’s entire housing industry, leaving long-term financial damage in its wake, but it also brought further Palestinian blackmail and demands, with absolutely no Arab concessions.

It was in late 2009 that Israel declared a ten-month construction freeze, under American brokerage, thus paying the Palestinians to deign to agree to come to the negotiating table. “We hope this decision will help launch meaningful peace negotiations,” Prime Minister Netanyahu declared at the time.

But the PA played its cards well. For nine months it simply refused to begin negotiating, and then finally claimed, “This ten-month moratorium is not acceptable; it must be ‘infinite.’ ”

Only in the final month of the freeze did the PA finally pretend it had agreed to talk – and then, only on one topic: “The freeze must continue indefinitely, or else no talks.” Thus, Israel had agreed to freeze the lives of 350,000 Israelis just so that the PA would agree to negotiate about how much longer the freeze would go on.

Israel did not fall for the trap, ended the freeze as scheduled, and negotiations have been stuck right there ever since. Yet now, it’s considered Israel’s fault…

Another aspect of the “blame the settlements” approach can be seen in the hostile reaction to Israel’s reissuing of tenders for 700 housing units in Gilo. Gilo is a Jewish suburb of Jerusalem, in an area that had been unilaterally and illegally administered by Jordan between 1948 and 1967. (Illegal, because the area was supposed to be part of a Palestinian state, according to the 1947 UN partition resolution; Jordan refused to accept this, invaded the area to attack Israel, and then took for itself parts of Jerusalem, as well as Judea and Samaria.)

To blame the talks’ breakdown on housing plans in Gilo is the height of smug hypocrisy. Everyone knows that Gilo will always be a part of Israel, no matter what “peace agreement” is ever reached. Gilo is far from just another little “settlement.” It is home to over 40,000 Israelis from all walks of life – including some of Israel’s most prominent left-wing pundits – and is an intrinsic part of Yerushalayim in every way. So, for that matter, are Ramat Eshkol, N’vei Yaakov, East Talpiyot, and other Jerusalem “settlements” claimed by the Palestinian Authority.

The truth is that seeking to place blame for the failure of the Kerry initiative is like trying to calculate why a sand castle cannot support the weight of an elephant: It simply is not built for it. The Arab world is simply not built to accept the existence of Israel in its midst. The PA, specifically, teaches its youth that the Jews have no national or historical rights in the area; that those who murder them in suicide and other attacks are to be glorified; and that the several thousand nomads who lived in the Holy Land together with Jews in recent centuries are actually the forebears of a “glorious Palestinian nation” that has been around for 2,000 years – even before the advent of Islam.

Hillel Fendel and Chaim Silberstein / KeepJerusalem.org

Jerusalem Approves 350 Homes for Jews in City’s ‘Settlements’

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Jerusalem Municipality’s Committee for Planning and Building has approved the construction of another 350 residential units in Jerusalem neighborhoods that the United States and United Nations consider “illegal” and home to “illegitimate” Jews.

The neighborhoods are Har Homa, across the highway from the Gilo “settlement” in southern Jerusalem, and Pisgat Ze’ev and Neve Yaakov, both of them located on the northern end of the capital.

The city’s deputy mayor Pepep Alalu of the left-wing Meretz party sharply criticized the announcement by the committee and called it an intention ploy to prevent a final agreement with the Palestinian Authority.

Toa certain extent he is right if it agreed that anything Israel does without the approval of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is an obstacle to an agreement.

That is the one-way policy that the Obama administration has pursued and which assumes that Abbas’ demands are the basis for a final agreement, except perhaps for the demand to flood Israel with several million foreign Arabs under the hijacked phrase ”right of return.”

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s “framework: that is to be dumped on the Palestinian Authority-Israeli negotiating table some time in the near future undoubtedly will not tackle the issue of the Jewish neighborhoods that the West calls “settlements.”

No one in his right mind, not even PA negotiator Saeb Erekat seriously thinks that Israel will expel 300,000 Jews form Har Homa, Gilo, Armon HaNatziv, French Hill and Ramot neighborhoods.

The only reason that the United States makes a stink about every home that Israel announces will be built in these areas is that it wants to show Abbas it does not distinguish them from Arab neighborhoods in areas of Jerusalem that were occupied by Jordan before the Six-Day War in 1967.

If the West were to ignore new housing in Gilo and Ramot, it would be putting a silent stamp of approval on the right of Israel to exercise its right of sovereignty over the Jewish neighborhoods on land that was legally annexed to Jerusalem in 1980.

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Post-Election Construction: Will It Happen?

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Now that the elections in Jerusalem are over, and with murderous Palestinian terrorists having been freed from prison, there seems to be an across-the-board desire to resume Jewish construction in the capital. The question is: Will this new enthusiasm last long enough for tractors to actually start work?

Prime Minister Netanyahu, under whose watch Jewish construction in the outlying areas of the Holy City has ground to a resounding halt, let it be known that together with last week’s release of killers from prison, he will initiate construction in eastern Jerusalem and Judea and Samaria (Yesha). And in fact, the Housing Ministry announced this week plans for 1,000 new housing units in large Yesha towns – though not in the smaller ones that need it most – and 700 more in Jerusalem.

Specifically, Gilo, Har Homa and Ramat Shlomo – among the Jerusalem neighborhoods liberated from Jordanian control during the Six-Day War – are scheduled to gain hundreds of apartments. In Yesha, the 1,030 new units will be distributed among Elkanah, Beitar Illit, Karnei Shomron, Maaleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Adam, and Ariel (in descending order).

It is said that Netanyahu’s sudden benevolence is an attempt to offset the popular resentment and anger at his government’s release of terrorist murderers. Fifty-two such killers have already been freed in the framework of the ongoing negotiations with the Palestinian Authority – half the total set to be freed as the talks proceed.

This could be a case of getting hit with the fish, paying for it, and having to eat it in any event. For one thing, the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party doesn’t accept the gesture. “Don’t do us any favors,” party officials told Netanyahu. “Don’t release terrorists and don’t build.”

The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities responded similarly: “Releasing terrorists is a terrible mistake both morally and politically. We object even if it is bound up with decisions to build.”

In addition, the PA used the occasion to attack Israel for “sabotaging” the talks and violating their pre-conditions, and its top negotiator even announced his resignation. Though their accusations are totally false – Israel agreed beforehand with U.S. Secretary of State Kerry that no restrictions would apply to Israeli construction during the talks – the international damage to Israel’s reputation has been done.

And in the end, who says the construction will actually ever happen? In the face of international condemnation, it could very well be that the building plans – so necessary for the vitality of Israel’s economy, both inside and outside of Yesha – will go the way of last month’s Hebron announcement: Following a murderous terrorist attack, Netanyahu announced that Jews would be allowed to populate the Jewish-owned Beit HaMachpelah building – and the next day the decision was reversed.

On the municipal level, newly reelected mayor Nir Barkat gave a nod towards the nationalist camp when he said, “I believe we must build [in Jerusalem]; we dare not hesitate. If it were up to us [in the municipality], we would run with it.” He specifically mentioned Gilo, Har Homa, Pisgat Ze’ev – all liberated in 1967 – and other neighborhoods.

Barkat’s political opponents don’t take his pledge very seriously, however. Housing Minister Uri Ariel blames him not for not building, but for not protesting: “It’s the fault of my boss,” he told a crowd of supporters, referring to the prime minister’s construction halt, “but why don’t we see Barkat making an outcry?”

Ariel and Barkat actually agree that there must be no linkage between building in the capital and a possible diplomatic agreement with the PA. “The very attempt to [make an agreement dependent on not building] is the true obstacle,” Barkat said. Ariel was even more pointed, saying:

“Can you imagine any other country forbidding Jews to build houses? We would all run out to the streets to cry out and protest – but here it passes quietly… Netanyahu is not even allowing us to make zoning plans. The construction permits of today are from two years ago. The few hundred new units we obtained are far from enough! We need a minimum of 4,000 new units in Jerusalem each year.”

According to the PA-sympathetic Ir Amim organization, last year saw a record number of tenders issued for housing units in post-1967 neighborhoods – a grand total of 2,386. Keep in mind that this brings up the average number for the past 11 years to the grand total of 877 – quite a bit less than the 4,000 Minister Ariel demands.

Hillel Fendel and Chaim Silberstein / KeepJerusalem.org

Police Looking for Two Jews Who Knifed Arab Cabbie

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Two Jewish youth attacked an Arab cab driver after they asked him to take them from Gilo, in southern Jerusalem, to downtown Jerusalem, police said Monday.

The driver, 50, is from the Beit Safafa neighborhood bordering Gilo. He escaped with light wounds after struggling with the attackers, who fled.

Police are treating the attack as an anti-Arab crime.

Jewish Press News Briefs

Kerry Asking Palestinians for an Extension to Revive Talks

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry phoned Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas twice this weekend, as part of his efforts to revive the peace process, the Palestinian official news agency Wafa reported Saturday.

Abbas reportedly told Kerry that it is crucial that Israel releases prisoners and stops settlement activities.

Last week, Kerry unveiled a $4 billion U.S. plan to boost the Palestinian economy, but the announcement was met with a cool response, as an adviser to Abbas told the press that the leadership would “not offer political concessions in exchange for economic benefits.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Almalki estimated Friday that Kerry would fail to achieve a breakthrough before June 7 as Kerry had wanted.

Political advisor to the PA Chairman, Nimer Hamad, said that Kerry asked for the extension to complete his efforts to revive the peace process, a task that was to be completed by the end of thwe coming week.

PLO officials said last week that Kerry has been pushing Abbas to return to negotiations without an Israeli commitment to stop settlement construction, and emphasized that it is inconsistent with the demands of the Palestinian leadership.

On Friday, DOS Spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that Kerry had spoken with Prime Minister Netanyahu Thursday, and raise the issue of settlement expansion—which, in reality, come down to 300 residential units in East Jerusalem’s Jewish neighborhoods of Ramot and Gilo. By then, Kerry had only spoken once to Abbas.

Psaki said that the State Dept. feels that “these activities are counterproductive to the cause of peace. They’re not constructive.”

Last week, the EU’s Lady Catherine Ashton called on the Israeli Government to reverse completely its decision on the new units in East Jerusalem. What a way to break the hearts of 300 Israelis who had one the Housing Ministry’s lottery for those units!

A reporter asked about the report in Yedioth Ahronoth, that Kerry submitted a proposal to the Israelis whereby they can keep parts of the Jordan Valley.

Psaki warned against reporting “those reports that suggest there’s been an American proposal put on the table. From the beginning, this has always been a case where the ball is in the court of the Israeli and the Palestinian people. The Secretary’s obviously very committed to this. He feels it’s important for regional stability. There are many world and global powers who are very committed to this, but it is ultimately up to them to make tough choices.”

Yori Yanover

Kerry Hosts ‘Peace Process Partner’ Livni to Advance PA Demands

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is Prime Minister Netanyahu’s de facto “peace process minister,” is in Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is fresh from winning a supposed “concession” from the Arab League for the American-sponsored peace process.

Kerry has come up with a proposal to adopt most of the Saudi 2002 Peace Initiative, which is virtually everything that Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has demanded.

Kerry’s mission is to make a deal. Getting Israel and the Palestinian Authority to agree on the final status of an independent Arab country under the aegis of the Palestinian Authority would be a glorious triumph for Kerry, possibly the stepping stone to the White House in  2016.

To get there, he is taking the course of least resistance, meaning the Israeli government.

Enter his real peace partner, Tzipi Livni.

Prime Minister Netanyahu holds the portfolio of Foreign Minister until there is a court decision on whether Avigdor Lieberman is guilty of fraud or can return to his former post. In the meantime, Netanyahu hurriedly bought Livni’s tiny party of six Knesset Members into the government by granting her the responsibility for handling the American effort for Palestinian Authority peace talks, one of Livni’s pet hobbies.

She and Kerry have the same goal, a deal at any cost with the prize of international admiration.

He came away from a meeting with the Arab League last week and tried to sell Israel a bill of goods of the Great Concession: The Arab supposedly are prepared to amend the Saudi 2002 Peace Initiative and back “land swaps,” meaning Israel would have their approval for sovereignty over a small amount of the land that was restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967.

In return, Israel would fork over an equal amount of land that has been part of the country since 1948.

Qatari Prime Minister Sheik al-Thani, whose kingdom has been unusually aggressive in handing out fat checks to Hamas and is pouring money into Arab areas of Jerusalem as well as the Palestinian Authority, led the Arab League delegation.

He agreed that perhaps – maybe if this and maybe if that, and if Israel behaves – the League could agree to “minor” land swaps.

For Kerry, this was a big concession. He “broke” the back of the Arabs and all that is left for him to do is tell Israel it is the best thing for the country since felafel.

“The Arab League delegation affirmed … the two-state solution on the basis of the 4th of June 1967 line, with the (possibility) of comparable and mutual agreed minor swap of the land,” he declared.

Of course, no one has any idea of what “minor” land swaps could mean, but you can rest your bottom dinar it does not mean that Israel would retain Gush Etzion. Maaleh Adumim? Maybe. Maybe not.

Perhaps the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramot, French Hill, Pisgat Ze’ev and Talpiot, among others? Could be.

And Gilo? Probably not.

It does not matter now. The most important thing for Kerry and Livni, his one-woman Israeli government fan club, is to talk it up. It does not matter to them that Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal already has rejected the idea. But they can take of him later and drop Hamas from the list of outlawed terrorist organizations, make it a legal terrorist group, and everything will be just fine.

Livni said the Qatari prime minister’s grand concession of possibly, just maybe, agreeing to a  minor land swap was “very positive news.”

And what would land would Israel give up in this “minor” swap. Most likely, enough land to link Gaza with Judea and Samaria.

Of course there is one not so minor point that Kerry has forgotten. Actually, he has not forgotten because the State Dept. does not know any better.

What Israeli Arab in his right mind would give up all the benefits and security he gets from the Israeli government and become subjects of the Palestinian Authority in order to help Kerry’s political career?

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/kerry-hosts-peace-process-partner-livni-to-advance-pa-demands/2013/05/02/

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