New construction announced in Ariel and Jerusalem

By Chaim Levinson and Nir Hasson, HAARETZ

Israel published two major new settlement plans on Tuesday, threatening to undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest trip to Washington.

More than 1,000 Jewish homes were approved for construction beyond the Green Line in East Jerusalem, along with a second plan to build 800 homes in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

“We were deeply disappointed by the announcement of advance planning for new housing units in sensitive areas of East Jerusalem,” said U.S. State Department Spokesman Philip J. Crowley. “It is counter-productive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties.”

[..] The construction in Ariel has been the center of controversy between Israel and the United States. While Israel sees Ariel as part of a large settlement bloc, the United States sees it as a panhandle sticking into the West Bank, intended to prevent Palestinian territorial contiguity.

Last month Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman met with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv to discuss resuming construction in the city. “You don’t know what efforts I’m making to keep Ariel,” Netanyahu reportedly told him. “The whole world is against Ariel.”

Since this is privately owned land, the developer may put up fences and forge paths in preparation for construction with the approval of the municipal planning committee; he does not need the Defense Ministry’s approval. Once the committee approves the plan, the construction may begin.

Nachman told the city council last month that “they approved a development contract. It’s a very big thing.”

He also spoke about building in other parts of Ariel. “We’ve resumed construction in the industrial area in Ariel west,” Nachman said. “Plants that were frozen are being built now …. In the Moriah neighborhood we’ve begun construction. There are 100 homes there by [construction company] Netzarim and 195 others by another company; together that’s 295.”

Referring to the construction approval, Ariel council member Yaakov Emanuel told Haaretz that “the city is thriving. This means Ariel will stay part of Israel.”

Over the weekend, the chairman of the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee, Ruth Yosef, published details of a program that will allow 930 housing units to be built in the Har Homa C area, with another 48 units in Har Homa B. An additional 320 units are planned for Ramot, also beyond the Green Line.

The plan’s publication is an important step in the process of its final approval, due in a few months.

Jerusalem’s municipal planning and construction committee issued building permits yesterday for 32 housing units in the Pisgat Ze’ev neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Over the past year several diplomatic incidents have occurred when Israel published building plans in East Jerusalem around the time of meetings with senior U.S. officials. The worst row erupted in March during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel over plans for 1,600 new Jewish homes in another East Jerusalem neighborhood, Ramat Shlomo.

Since then the prime minister has imposed rigorous restrictions on Jerusalem’s planning committees to prevent further crises.

Officials familiar with planning issues said they were astonished by the timing of the publishing of these plans – on the eve of the prime minister’s trip to Washington. Construction of the neighborhood in Har Homa at the end of the ’90s, during Netanyahu’s previous tenure as prime minister, led to a crisis with the U.S. administration.

Orly Noy, spokeswoman for nonprofit group Ir Amim, said on the plans’ publication: “Israel is continuing to dictate, inch by inch, a dramatic reality in Jerusalem that will significantly hamper any peace solution in the future. This is especially blatant when the prime minister appears to be advancing a possible solution in his visit to the United States.”

The Interior Ministry said the program’s details had been published in accordance with the law and were approved long before they were published.

November 9, 2010 | 6 Comments »

Subscribe to Israpundit Daily Digest

Leave a Reply

6 Comments / 6 Comments

  1. I am so thrilled that the Soetoro Obama associates have solved all of the United States internal and other problems… that I would shout, WHAT?!?! We really wish our fellow Americans well, but honestly, that is the best they can do for a leader? The fellow is totally incoherent w/o a teleprompter and his acts are inimical to teh US and its real allies.
    I remember when US reps used to come over to “rate” our financial system and pontificate about us having “the governments we deserve”. It seems like yesterday, does it not?
    And about the 66% of the Jewish people there still bumbling around with that crowd I say again, WHAT!?!

    We must follow our path to complete the redemption of Eretz Israel while carefully navigating the rapids likely to be found along the way. Islamimsm is a mortal enemy and those following that path cannot possibly be considered partners on anything.

  2. When are the left wing idiots in both Israel and the US going to wake up and realize that the feeding of land to the arabs (the original Palestinians were Jews not arabs) will never result in peace, but rather persistent demands for more land until Israel had no more land to give.

  3. “You don’t know what efforts I’m making to keep Ariel,” Netanyahu reportedly told him. “The whole world is against Ariel.”

    If only all Israel had to deal with was Jerusalem, which is NOT a settlement. I already wrote to my congressman to protest Obama’s complete post-election reversion to Jerusalem-bashing, about the announcements in NORTH (Ramot) and SOUTH (Har Homa) Jerusalem.

    Ariel is a totally different matter, in the twisted view of the rest of the world. Israel should sell Ariel with a leaseback, to the Russians. Just to make it more difficult for anyone to complain 🙂

  4. Do you really think Netanyahu had no knowledge this was coming or is against it?

    JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office sharply rejected international criticism of Israel’s most recently announced building plans in East Jerusalem, saying in a statement: “Jerusalem is not a settlement: Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.” The statement said that Israel had “never agreed to limit its construction in any way in Jerusalem where 800,000 inhabitants live. . .” NYT

    How then is it threatening to undermine Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest trip to Washington without his approval?