Settlement building spree before election
Occupied Area ‘Is Our Capital,’ Netanyahu Insists
By Jason Ditz, anti-war.com
October 21, 2012
Just days after approving another 800 house settlement expansion in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today told his cabinet that the expansions will continue “without limits.”
“We are not imposing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu added, “it is our capital.” In public speeches Netanyahu rarely acknowledges the difference between Israeli Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, the portion of the city that lies in the occupied West Bank and which is the planned capital for an independent Palestine. Netanyahu and other officials regularly refer to Jerusalem as the “eternal, undivided capital” to reflect their opposition to this.
The comments were slammed by Palestinian officials, who said it was part of a deliberate effort to sabotage the peace process, which has been stalled for over a year over the continued expansion of settlements.
The more likely explanation is a political one, however, as Netanyahu has called for early elections and is courting the votes of Israel’s far-right, which is outspokenly in favor of expanding the settlements and by and large opposed to the peace process on general principle. The annexation of East Jerusalem, though not recognized by the rest of the world, is also a key issue for the Israeli right, and Netanyahu reportedly plans to construct a military academy in the area.
20 October 2012
BRUSSELS – The European Union’s foreign policy chief on Thursday criticised Israel’s plan to build hundreds of homes in annexed east Jerusalem and called for it to hold fresh talks with the Palestinians.
Catherine Ashton “deeply regrets” the Israeli interior ministry decision to back the expansion of the Gilo settlement by 797 units, said a statement from her office.
“Settlements are illegal under international law and threaten to make a two-state solution impossible,” said the statement, which repeated the EU’s call for an end to settlements, both in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem.
Talks “continue to represent the best way forward in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” it added.
“Continuous expansion of settlements makes this all the more difficult.”
Israel’s interior ministry granted final approval for the plans on Thursday.
The move will mean the westward expansion of Gilo, which is on the southern flanks of east Jerusalem, very close to the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
“Israel’s decision to build 800 housing units is part of an overall Israeli plan which aims to destroy the two-state solution,” negotiator Saeb Erakat told AFP on Thursday.
The only answer was for the international community to back Palestinian plans to seek upgraded UN status, he added.
A resolution to that effect is to be put to the UN General Assembly in November.
Israel considers both west and east Jerusalem to be its “eternal, indivisible” capital, and does not view construction in the eastern sector as settlement activity.
The Palestinians, however, believe east Jerusalem should be the capital of their future state and are fiercely opposed to the extension of Israeli control over the sector.
23 October 2012
JERUSALEM- Israel is to invite tenders for the construction of nearly 700 homes in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, days after the European Union slammed its ongoing settlement construction.
According to a housing ministry statement, tenders are to be published for 5,000 homes nationwide, among them 607 units in Pisgat Zeev, a settlement neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, and 92 in Maale Adumim, a large settlement in the central West Bank.
The move comes just days after Israel gave final approval for plans to build nearly 800 homes in another part of east Jerusalem, sparking criticism from European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is expected to visit the region on Wednesday.
Last Thursday, the interior ministry gave final approval to the construction of 797 homes on a hillside west of the east Jerusalem settlement neighbourhood of Gilo, in a move Ashton said she “deeply regrets.”
But Israel, which annexed east Jerusalem after the 1967 Six Day War and does not consider construction there to be settlement building, has remained defiant.
“United Jerusalem is Israel’s eternal capital,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday during a tour of Gilo, with the term “united” referring to both the eastern and western sectors of the city.
“We have the full right to build in it… this is our policy and I will continue to back construction in Jerusalem,” he said, reiterating a pledge he made on Sunday.
Housing Minister Ariel Atias also said construction would not be halted in Jerusalem.
“There is natural growth and demand, and construction there cannot be halted,” he said in a statement.
The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state and adamantly oppose any Israeli attempt to extend its control over the sector.
By Associated Press
October 21, 2012
JERUSALEM— Israel’s prime minister vowed on Sunday to continue building in east Jerusalem, despite objections fromPalestinians who claim the territory as capital of their hoped-for state.
Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Sunday after the European Union’s foreign policy chief criticized plans to build 800 new apartments and a military college on contested land, which the international community considers to be under Israeli occupation.
“We are not imposing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem” Netanyahu told his Cabinet. “It is our capital.”
A top aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas promptly accused Netanyahu of deliberately destroying prospects for peace.
The Israeli leader’s comment “comes in the context of the continuing destruction of the peace process and the two-state solution,” Nabil Abu Rdeneh said.
The fate of Jerusalem lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians refuse to negotiate while Israel continues to build settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, areas captured by the Jewish state in 1967.
Netanyahu has rejected the notion of partitioning the city.
Meanwhile, American academic Noam Chomsky made his first ever visit to the Gaza Strip, where he called on Israel to end its blockade of the territory run by the Islamic militant group Hamas.
Israel says it imposed the blockade to prevent Gaza militants from getting weapons. Gaza militants have fired thousands of rockets and mortar rounds at Israeli border communities and towns over the past decade.
Hamas is listed as a terror group by the U.S., EU and others because of its suicide bombings and other attacks against civilian targets like buses and restaurants that have killed hundreds of people.
Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh issued a statement Sunday evening saying he met with Chomsky in the afternoon. According to the statement, the Hamas leader thanked Chomsky for his support of the Palestinians.
The octogenarian Chomsky, an ardent critic of Israel who was banned from the country in 2010, entered Gaza through neighboring Egypt to attend a linguistics conference. While there, he accused the U.S. of allowing the Jewish state to act with impunity for its continuation of the blockade, which Israel imposed after the militant Islamist Hamas group violently seized control of Gaza in 2007.
The restrictions on Gaza were loosened after an Israeli raid on a blockade-busting boat in 2009 killed nine Turkish activists, but there are still limits on movement, imports of raw materials, and exports.