Tag Archives: housing construction

Israel Will Disband “Illegal”Settlements

The Israel government informed the United States it would demolish 23 “illegal” settlements that were built after 2001. Dan Meridor, a deputy prime minister said the Obama administration was bound by “tacit” understandings on settlement construction that Israel had reached with former President Bush. The so-called “illegal” settlements never received planning permission. However, under international law, all settlements built on occupied territory are illegal. Prime Minister Netanyahu insists his government will proceed with further construction of housing that meets “natural growth” regardless of what the outside world desires. French foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, told Israel’s ambassador to France “these activities must be stopped” referring to construction of housing in the West Bank. The British and the EU both have urged an end to settlement construction.

It is time for the Israel government to understand the American people voted out George Bush in order to end his idiotic foreign policy. Most American polls reveal a large majority of American Jews support the Obama administration ideas on ending settlement construction. Israel has the option to stand apart from the world. In so doing, it loses any chance to be recognized as a moral government.

Wake up Israel, the world is passing you by.

Israel Continues Violating Peace Agreement

Israel is among the few genuinely democratic societies in the Middle East, but its policies in the west Bank only reveal that a democratic nation can be stupid and warlike. Peace Now, an Israeli based organization, issued a report which clearly proves the present Olmert govenment has been violating agreements and pledges it made to Palestinians and to the United States by refusing to halt construction of new housing on the West Bank. According to Peace Now figures, the Housing Ministry began construction during the January- June period of 433 new settlement housing units which represents double the number built-240- last year in the same period. More than 1000 new buildings representing 2,600 housing units were under construction. Of these, 55% were built on the eastern side of the concrete and steel barrier Israel has built on the West Bank.

According to the US initiated road map to which Israel agreed, new housing construction was to cease. Secretary of State Rice who has arrived in Jerusalem today, has said: “I think it it no secret I have said it to my Israel counterpart that I didn’t think that settlement activity is helpful.” Israel Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni insists “the Israel government’s policy is not to expand settlements, not to build new settlements and not to confiscate Palestinian land.”

Perhaps, the foreign minister might get together with the housing ministry and inform them of her beliefs because either the housing people don’t know about Israel foreign policy or someone is lying. As Peace Now notes, “construction has continued” and “undermines the possibility of a peace agreement.” That is the bottom line.

Israel Denies Palestinians Right To West Bank Housing

During the past seven years, the Israel government has pursued a consistent program of making it difficult to build housing on the West Bank. Accoording to the UN Office for the Coordiantion of Humanitarian Affairs, Israel also demolished 1,500 Palestinian owned structures while making it easy for Israelis to build on the West Bank. At present there are 3,000 demolition orders pending aganst Palestinian-owned structures in those areas. Quartet Middle east envoy, Tony Blair, told reporters earlier this month that Israel had agreed to reconsider some of its demolition orders.

The reality is that Israel has denied 94% of West Bank construction requests from Arabs. The West Bank was supposed to be part of a Palestinian state, but the continued Israel building makes it increasingly more difficult to create a Palestinian state that has economic viability while hindering opportunities for negatiation. The denial of Palestinian rights makes it more likely Palestinians will seek to support more radical elements like Hamas. In many ways, the blind Israel policy of West Bank construction contains the seeds for future violence.

Israel West Bank Settlements Subvert Peace Process

The continuing saga of Israeli’s subversion of the peace process by constructing new housing settlements on the West Bank porceeds without any serious effort to halt this effort to hamper achievement of peace with Palestinians. The ultra-Orthodox settlement of Modi’in Illit in the West Bank will most probably be granted city status even though council members were guilty of authorizing illegal construction. The committee’s decision contradicts expert opinions that severely criticized Modi’in Illit’s council for its involvement in approving construciton of Matityahu East, a new neighborhood that borders the Palestinian town of Bil’in. Construction of Matityahu East was supposedly halted two years ago due to a petition filed by Peace Now, but it apparently proceeded.

Moshe Moskowitz of the Civil Administration, the highest authority for planning and construction in the West Bank, wrote the Modi’in council comptroller that the council authorized the project even though it was beyond its jurisdiction. Construction of Matityhu East was not authorized in the master plan for the West Bank, but now it exists and most probably will become a city.

It is incidents such as these which frustrate peace efforts and make Palestinians wary of trusting Israel’s intention to abide by agreements.

Cease Fire In Gaza– Yes Or No?

Palelstinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Jordanian reporters in Amman that “a top Israel official is sabotaging the peace talks with Israel over internal matters and due to a personal hostility towards me.” He apparently was referring to Defense Minister Ehud Barak. On Monday, Abbas contradicted an earlier statement by Barak and insisted a cease fire had been reached between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. He claimed Hamas leaders wanted a cease fire because they feared for their lives. However, Hamas spokesperson Sami ABu Zuhri, insisted: “Hamas leaders seek martyrdom and would never bargan over the blood of their people like others do.”

The reality is there has been an end to rocket attacks in the Gaza area and Israel has ceased its bombing. President Abbas raised important points concerning the peace process which were stated in clear terms by Palestinian negotiator Ahmed Qureia, “Israel must freeze construction in areas claimed by Palestinians in order to get peace talks back on track.” Olmert’s decision to give in to Orthodox Jewish demands for more housing construction on the West Bank can only damage efforts to achieve peace. There must be an end to housing construction as was promised to Palestinians.

Israel E. Jerusalem Housing Creates Conflict

The Israel government is undertaking construction of about 304 new apartments in East Jerusalem as its prime minister prepares for meetings with Palestinians to discuss peace. President Mahmoud Abbas made it clear there would be serious difficulties in conducting peace if settlement construction continues in East Jerusalem. A Fatah spokesperson, Abu Rdeneh bluntly stated: “there is need to freeze the settlement activities in order to create the appropriate atmosphere to bring progress in the peace process.” President Mubarak joined in the Arab cry for an end to settlement construction and focusing on the only thing that emerged from the famous Annapolis conference– peace talks. Israel’s Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni sharply criticized the Egyptian effort to prevent arms smuggling into Gaza and in response, Egypt’s Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman promised his country would take renewed steps to halt smuggling.

There is a time and place for everything, and right now constructing 304 apartments is the wrong move. Some Israelis, undoubtedly, will argue the point of a principle that Israel has a right to build. The only important principle right now is working for a comprehensive peace, not worrying about a few apartments. In the end, Israel must recognize that East Jerusalem should become the capital of the new nation of Palestine. Israelis have every right to express concerns given the past history when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem and desecrated Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. Hopefully, that era is over and when peace arrives all religious institutions will be accorded respect. Right now, Israel must focus on peace, not apartments.