Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came out in strong support of building in eastern Jerusalem after the European Union criticized approval for 800 new homes in the southern neighborhood of Gilo. Mr. Netanyahu told the Cabinet that “we are not imposing any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem. It is our capital.”
Last week’s approval for new building in Jerusalem includes construction of a military college on land that the EU, as well as the United States, considers to be Jewish “settlements” that they consider illegal.
A recent report authored by three Israeli legal experts, headed by former High Court Justice Edmund Levy, concluded that Jews have a legal right to live in all of the land restored to the country in the Six-Day War in 1967. It said the term “occupied territory” is wrong.
The Prime Minister’s comments to the Cabinet had a ring of electioneering, following his announcement earlier this month that he would recommend that the Cabinet adopt part of the Levy Report.
However, after the elections were announced and the Prime Minister suddenly suggested that the Cabinet adopt part of the Levy Report, his attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, conveniently followed up with a statement that saying he opposes the report, effectively shelving it.
Weinstein’s action was a carbon copy of previous rulings that contradicted ostensibly nationalist positions from Netanyahu, allowing him to please nationalists and then letting the Obama administration relax by knowing that no action would take place that might ruffle its feathers.
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman paved the way for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s remarks, stating that “Jerusalem is not a settlement” and that Israel has set a “red line” that strikes the capital from any negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.
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