Peace Now co-founder Tzali Reshef may passionately defend his organization’s position against construction in areas outside the 1949 Armistice Line (“Green Line”) — but in his other life Reshef’s company invests in the lucrative building trade to be found in those exact same areas in Jerusalem.
The disparity emerged last week following Reshef’s debate on Israel’s Channel 2 television with Dani Dayan, entrepreneur and former chairman of the Judea and Samaria Council of Jewish Communities (Yesha Council). Reshef, 61, served as a Labor MK from August 2002 to February 2003. Today he is a successful businessman who heads Arledan Investments, Ltd and its subsidiary, Keter Publishing House.
The issue under discussion between the two men was the construction of a new neighborhood – Givat HaMatos — in southern Jerusalem, near Gilo and on the “other side” of the 1949 Armistice Line.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has slammed what he called a “deliberate” attempt by the radical leftist Peace Now movement to sabotage his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday. The group deliberately publicly railed about a published tender notifying Israelis of the final approval for construction of housing in the Givat HaMatos neighborhood, a years-old project that had already won its initial approval in 2011.
The group’s “leak” was timed to coincide with Netanyahu’s meeting at the White House, where it did indeed create a firestorm of outrage, as Peace Now intended. White House press secretary Josh Earnest condemned the project, saying it would “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki issued a similar condemnation.
Notably, “The truth is that there is no private Palestinian land in this plan,” Peace Now admits on its website. “The lands included in the plan are state lands and tenders to these plans will be published by the state, similarly to the case in Har Homa, Gilo, Ramot and other neighborhoods,” according to the site. Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced that in Givat HaMatos, plans include construction of housing for Arab residents as well.
As co-founder of the radical leftist movement, Reshef presents himself to the Israeli public as someone passionately opposed to building new Jewish neighborhoods or communities – or any construction in those that exist, including expansion – in areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority for its hoped-for state. Among those territories are areas that were forcibly occupied by Jordan from 1948 to 1967 and won by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War (Judea, Samaria, Jordan Valley, and about half of Jerusalem.)
Last week, Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer openly blamed Israel’s prime minister for U.S. President Barack Obama’s outrage at the construction of new Israeli homes in the neighborhood, saying “He is responsible for authorizing building in sensitive areas like Givat HaMatos.”
Likewise, during last week’s televised debate with Dani Dayan, Reshef said bluntly that construction in “East Jerusalem” sabotages peace, is an anti-patriotic act, and called it an “abomination.”
Jewish Press.com tried several times to contact Reshef by phone to request elaboration on those remarks, but failed to reach him.
“Fine. That’s his opinion and he is entitled to it,” commented Dayan in an exclusive interview with JewishPress.com on Monday evening. “But I was shocked to discover the day after our debate that Reshef’s company, “Arledan,” actually initiated construction projects in Gilo and French Hill – two major neighborhoods located over the ‘Green Line.’ ”
In fact, Arledan’s website is quite clear that the firm is proud of its accomplishments, and apparently rightfully so.
One of Israel’s leading public investment companies, Arledan began as a private corporation, acting primarily as a real estate developer. But it went public in 1981, with shares now trading on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Arledan acts as a developer for properties that it owns and also rents out various commercial and residential properties, to quote the company’s site, “primarily in the city of Jerusalem. Some of the projects Arledan has successfully developed over the years include residential projects in the neighborhoods of French Hill, Gilo, Givat Oranim and Mevaseret Zion, as well as residential and commercial projects in downtown Jerusalem.” (italics added for emphasis)Hana Levi Julian