PM Netanyahu is moving on with construction plans in the Israeli capital despite international opposition and condemnation.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized on Monday the construction of 1,060 new homes in Jerusalem. According to the plan, 660 apartments are to be built in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood and 400 in Har Homa.
Both neighborhoods are situated in areas perceived as controversial by the United States and the European Union.
Netanyahu is reportedly also working to improve the infrastructure in Judea and Samaria, including the building and improvement of roads and water facilities as well as boosting the safety and accessibility to the Israeli and Arab populations in the area.
Israel’s Channel 2 reported on Sunday that Netanyahu’s government approved the construction of 2,000 housing units in various locations in Judea and Samaria.
A memorandum distributed by Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit indicates that there are plans for the building of a promenade in Judea and Samaria in memory of the three Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas terrorists in June.
EU and US Condemn – Again
The European Union (EU) expressed disagreement with Israel’s building plans in Jerusalem and said on Monday it was seeking Israeli clarification on the reports, voicing new concern about the peace process, AFP reports.
“It will call once again into serious question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians,” EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton stated.
The European Union could only “condemn such an ill-judged and ill-timed decision” if the plans went ahead, spokeswoman EU Maja Kocijancic said.
The EU threatened Israel again, stating, “we stress that the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on [its] engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.”
The EU has previously condemned Israel for its plans to build in its capital and made similar diplomatic threats.
Washington joined the EU in condemning Israel for its building plans in Jerusalem. “We continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.
‘Israel Has Every Right to Build in Jerusalem’
Responding to the condemnations, a diplomatic source told Arutz Sheva:
“Whenever Israel wants to build, the world demands clarification. The best clarification that Israel can provide is that Israel has the right to build anywhere. They’ll shout, they’ll make noise, and they’ll get over it.”
Speaking at the opening of the Knesset’s winter session on Monday, Netanyahu stated: “Israel has every right to build in Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.”
“Violence against us is not the result of construction in Jerusalem,” he clarified, “It comes from the desire of our enemies for us not to be here at all.”
Netanyahu has strongly rejected such criticism of Israel’s building in Jerusalem in the past, stating that Jews have a right to homes in Jerusalem just as the Arabs do, and that he would not discriminate against the Jews.
“I don’t understand this criticism, and I don’t accept this position,” Netanyahu declared. “Arabs in Jerusalem freely buy apartments, and nobody says that is forbidden. I will also not say that Jews cannot buy property in Jerusalem. There cannot be discrimination between Jews and Arabs. This is a normal process, and I see no reason to discriminate.”
“These are neighborhoods in Jerusalem. If you said to me that in some city in the United States or in Mexico, or anywhere else, Jews cannot buy apartments, there would be an uproar,” he added.
Author: Aryeh Savir
Staff Writer, United with Israel