Arutz Sheva has reported, “Jerusalem’s local committee […] approved building permits for 2,610 housing units in the Givat HaMatos neighborhood in Jerusalem. […] Givat Hamatos is a southern suburb of the capital located in an area restored to the city during the 1967 Six Day-War.” The Givat Hamatos neighborhood is adjacent to Talpiyot. The Times of Israel claimed, “The area, inhabited by a few dozen Jewish and Palestinian families who live in rundown trailers, would be the first new neighborhood built in East Jerusalem since 1997.” This move comes as many countries around the world condemn Israel for construction within her capital city.
Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, while addressing 11 ambassadors from Asian and Pacific nations, declared, “I want to take the opportunity to point out a simple fact. The walls of Jerusalem that you see behind us represent the capital of the Jewish people for some 3,000 years. All Israeli governments have built in Jerusalem. We’re not going to change that. This is something natural, and I ask each of you to imagine that you would be restricted in building in your capitals. This is not logical, and for us what is important is that we are committed to our capital, to peace, and we will build in Jerusalem for all its residents.”
Israeli Ambassador Ron Proser also stated, “The planned construction is in neighborhoods that will be part of Jerusalem and Israeli sovereignty under any future agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is hypocrisy to call for Palestinian territorial contiguity between Judea and Samaria and Gaza and in the same breath also oppose Jewish territorial contiguity between Ma’ale Adumim and Jerusalem. Settlements are not and never have been the main obstacle to peace. The real obstacle to peace is the Palestinians’ demand of return, their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, the continued terrorism and incitement against Israel.”
It is important to remember that contrary to certain assertions by various world leaders, Israeli sovereignty over greater Jerusalem is not an impediment to the creation of a Palestinian state. As the historian Yaakov Lozowick bluntly put it, “There are more than 4 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and about 300,000 in Eastern Jerusalem. The 90-plus percent cannot be sovereign if the 8 percent don’t join them?” The issue is that the Palestinian leadership doesn’t want to create a state without greater Jerusalem, not that them not getting what they want prevents them from having a state. Many states exist without possessing all the territories they feel belongs to them.
Furthermore, it is also crucial to note that the majority of Arabs living in East Jerusalem do not want to be part of a Palestinian state. The Washington Post reported, a survey “designed and supervised by former State Department Middle East researcher David Pollock found that only 30 percent said they would prefer to be citizens of Palestine in a two-state solution, while 35 percent said they would choose Israeli citizenship.” Thus, the most democratic thing to do is to listen to what the residents of East Jerusalem want, rather than letting the Palestinian Authority dictatorship decide for them what is in their best interests.
By Rachel Avraham