The Housing Expansion Will Continue, Says Israel

As the world seeks a new beginning in resolution of the Israel-Palestinian conflict, leaders of the Israel government are determined to proceed with policies as is and refuse to make any alternations in altering the status quo. Rafi Eltan, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, claims, “no promise was ever given to anyone that we wouldn’t continue to build in Har Homa because it is within the municipal borders of Jerusalem.” Housing plans call for construction of 100 apartments in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. US Secretary of State Condi Rice has termed building in Har Homa an “unhelpful” action. Peace Now Director-General Yariv Oppenhemier termed the decision a hindrance to diplomatic negotiation “before they’ve begun. Despite the government’s declarations that it would freeze construction, the 2008 budget proves that things will look differently on the ground.”

There comes a point in any conflict in which each side has to hold back from actions that are considered their right to carry out in hope that long-term consequences will take precedence. This is not the time for claiming that since no one told me I couldn’t do it, I will proceed along the path I desire. Palestinian and Israel negotiators must have the freedom to proceed without actions that only hamper success. There is little doubt the issue of east Jerusalem is a central point in any negotiations and building new apartments in order to expand Israel control only serves to hurt negotiations.