After UN Vote, Israel Plans J’lem Housing

by Alana Goodman, Commentary

Peace Now is calling this a “deal breaker for the two-state solution,” which is a great joke after yesterday’s UN debacle. This is Israel’s reply to the Palestinian Authority’s resolution, and why not? You’d think shredding the 17-year-old Oslo framework might merit some sort of response.

The New York Times reports:

    As the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

    A senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Friday that the decision was made late Thursday night to move forward on “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for housing units in E1, which would connect the large settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Israel also authorized the construction of 3,000 housing units in other parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the official said.

Whatever your thoughts on the settlements, this is hardly an eye-for-an-eye retribution. It’s not an explicit violation of any agreements by Israel. Compare that to the PA’s UN bid, which violates article XXXI, sec. 7 of the Oslo accords, which states “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” (It’s not as if the PA was unaware of that — a member of the Fatah Central Committee said earlier this month that the day after the vote, Oslo would be null and void).

Israel made concessions under Oslo that can’t be unmade. The PA, which has been the beneficiary of these concessions, no longer wants to stand by its own obligations. And what’s Israel’s response? Not to tear up Oslo, not to try to collapse the PA, or block funds. But to resume building in East Jerusalem, something that wasn’t considered an insurmountable obstacle to talks until recently. You can argue the construction is unhelpful, but how much does that matter when the PA is openly flouting its signed agreements on one side and Hamas is shooting missiles across the border on the other?

And, in a way, maybe this actually is necessary for a future two-state agreement. How can the Israeli public be expected to agree to painful concessions if its leaders won’t even hold the Palestinians to account when past agreements are broken? The settlement construction is a way for Israel to show there are penalties for violating agreements while still staying within the boundaries of Oslo.

December 1, 2012 | 7 Comments »

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7 Comments / 7 Comments

  1. @ Ted Belman: My gut tells me that this is part of the “agreement under the table”. Everyone is getting something. It looks to me that defacto positions will proceed under the appearance of faux “disagreements” whereby none of the constituents leaderships can make above the table deals. Some things will coalesce and reach conclusion and others wont. In the de facto mid term the Jews will solidify east jerusalem and the major settlements, retain the Jordan valley indefinitely until future agreement, gaza might become relatively pacified if the iranian influence is removed. I think there will be an appearance of “disagreement” but it appears to me that there is an under the table interim agreement. Even 2 states disagree on boundaries and engage in war(Georgia, russia?). The argument will devolve from occupation to one of belligerency and border disputes(georgia, russia,etc). Perhaps what appears to be Israeli indecision has been decided but that the “street” makes it impossible to proceed above the table with the agreement. The question is how will the PA proceed as an operative state in all the areas of economics,etc; Both sides will be restrained by “international law” whether overtly or covertly. Perhaps this is what the leaderships both want: the appearance of being forced by circumstances. It looks as if the ME is being re drawn and the key will be Iran. My wager is that the big arab family money wants to get beyond the israeli pal issue and are thinking about their future situation re oil depletion, power retention, personal security, stability as individual families.

  2. It makes no sense to continue to discuss the obligations of Oslo. The UN has killed Oslo definitely by voting the Pal state as opposed to it evolving from negotiations. Oslo is de facto dead and it is only Israel, as usual, who talks about its observation. Pals dont refer to Oslo, unlike the Jews, they refer to what they want(also unlike Israel who has no consensus of what they want to achieve). Jews apparently have no interest in the west bank or gaza beyond east jesusalem and existing settlements. The jews may win wars of survival but the pals will win the rest because Jews cant agree. While the Jews are busy disagreeing the crocodile eats them. The Jews cannot express their goals because they cant agree on what they are. The jews are their own greatest enemy. All current failures emanate from the inability of Israeli Jews to agree. If they had agreed on what they wanted so would everyone else, now it is too late. All this moaning and whining about Obama, US, UN, EU etc is secondary. It has almost become a childish tantrum on the right. Yes, they are all POS but their position cannot be more than that of the Israeli Jews. The “light to the world” which they have shown is that of a lack of desire to accept the land of Israel and the world is merely accepting their decision.
    The only way that Israel will now get the west bank is through a paradigm shift in culture and leadership. At this point diplomacy and PR cannot change the situation, and then change it to what? Only unilateralism and force can change it now and under what scenario and who is capable of such will and courage? It appears apparent that decisions have already been made intentionally or through default of non-action. The policy of “wait and see” at work(this is a euphemism for incompetence).

  3. “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”
    I guess Israel actually broke Oslo when it unilaterally pulled out of Gaza then.

  4. @ Ted Belman:

    Build baby build.

    I said many times Israel needs to continue to build communities and not worry about outside pressure.

    Israel needs to do what is best for Israel and her people.

    The US needs to stand by the Sovereign Nation of Israel.

    If the US needs to take a side, it should be with our only true friend and trusted ally in the ME, ISRAEL.

    Build, build and build the Holy Land belongs to you Israel.

  5. Israel has wanted to build in E1 for many years and even built a by-pass road to handle Ramallah/Bethlehem traffic.
    But she refrained from doing so due to huge pressure from the US. I would be surprised if the plans for zoning etc weren’t well on their way.

    Planning is one thing, building is another.