I learned today that Netanyahu told the Likud faction yesterday that there has been no approval for building in E1, the region between Ma'ale Adumim and Jerusalem. What has been approved is zoning and planning.
So, here I'm not saying "so-far, so-good." What I don't know is if this was all that was intended from the time of the announcement, with reports having exaggerated or obscured that intention. Or if there has been a reversal in response to the huge outpouring of criticism about Israel building in E1.
We have a nerve, do we not? Interfering with the ability of the PLO to establish a state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
Herb Keinon's assessment of this in the JPost today was that, "With these comments, Netanyahu...seemed to signal to the Palestinians that if they go further with the type of unilateral actions they took at the UN on Thursday, Israel would indeed build in E1."
Maybe. But still we hold ourselves back.
I've said it before, but I will continue to say it, because it is so critical. The world persists in pursuing something non-existent. Anyone with a reasonable capacity for observing behavior and drawing conclusions should be able to see this: Abbas does not intend to be a "peace partner." He's not along for the ride.
And yet Israel is constantly chided and derided for interfering with that imaginary process.
Abbas returned from the UN to Ramallah to great celebration, as we knew he would. He wasted no time in telling a rally -- consisting of Fatah activists and PA civil servants -- that his next step would be "restoring unity of the Palestinians and their lands and institutions." By which he meant, of course, unity with Hamas: "We will study accelerating moves to achieve reconciliation."
There is a way in which Abbas needs this unity in order to make a credible claim about a state -- all the people together, Gaza and the West Bank, etc. etc.
Yet, I do not give much credence to the possibility of a genuine reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. The historical record on this makes it rather dubious. There have been negotiations again and again on "unity." Stops and starts and stops again -- one side and then the other accused of being the obstacle.
In March 2007, a unity government was announced after Abbas and Hamas politburo head Khaled Mashaal met in Mecca for negotiations. It lasted until June of that year, when Hamas seized control of Gaza in a coup and Abbas dissolved the government.
In May of 2011, Abbas and Mashaal went to Cairo and from there announced elections for a unity slate a year hence. In the interim, a government of independent figures was to be set in place. But there was never agreement on who would be appointed, and it never happened.
Were there to be a Hamas-Fatah unity government for the Palestinian Arabs, Israel would refuse to negotiate. This is in principle.
But as this is moot, my focus is elsewhere: Abbas's very readiness, indeed, declared eagerness, to join with Hamas -- which is overtly terrorist -- speaks volumes about his intentions. This is just one more sign that he's not along for the "peace process" ride, while the world chooses not to notice.
I've monitored Fatah-Hamas reconciliation talks over a period of years. And what I've seen consistently is that such talks further radicalize Fatah, rather than moderating Hamas. Fatah needs to present its bona fides with regard to "resistance."
Hamas, for its part, is playing both ends against the middle, and I do not like what I'm seeing:
Ismail Haniyeh, who is referred to as the Hamas prime minister, said yesterday that, "The time has come for the US and the EU to remove Hamas from the list of designated terrorist organizations. Hamas and the Palestinian groups [terrorist groups such as Islamic Jihad] are national liberation movements that are defending themselves against Israeli aggression on our people."
The US is not at this place of thinking, at least not yet. Although yesterday I expressed my unease with the way Dan Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel, wrote, first talking about efforts to stop weapons smuggling and then segueing into the need for peace negotiations -- as if, somehow, Hamas would be involved in negotiations.
But I can see some EU states going along with this.
At the very same time, a member of the Hamas politburo and top representative of Hamas in Bruit, Osama Hamdan, has declared that a Palestinian state without an armed struggle against Israel is just an illusion:
"The PLO has paid a heavy political price for this representation [in the UN] because it relinquished its claims to the lands of 1948 [asked for recognition of a state on the '67 line]. Therefore the real achievement lies in the liberation of the land, the return of the refugees, and achieving steadfastness on the land." (Emphasis added)
Strategic Affairs Ministry Director-General Yossi Kuperwasser reported to the Cabinet yesterday that the incitement and inflammatory language in the Palestinian Authority is the worst is has been since the Israeli government began measuring it in 2009.
Kuperwasser was asked to give this report in the wake of Abbas's ugly and inciteful speech at the UN. Seems this speech was not an aberration in PA terms. Kuperwasser's presentation included examples from FaceBook pages of PA schools that promote the narrative that all of Israel must "return" to Palestine; one page had "I hate Israel" in 16 languages. Then there was the quote from Abbas that the creation of Israel was "one of the most dreadful campaigns of ethnic cleansing and dispossession in modern history."
Did I say Abbas wasn't along for the "peace process" ride? Hey! He's running as fast as he can in the opposite direction.
As the Cabinet has the information that Kuperwasser presented, they understand this. So what does it take, when will it happen, that Israeli officials present this information to the world, and declare the Oslo misadventure ended?
It is critical for Israel to stand strong, firm in her rights, and making the case with self-confidence.
If there is any good news here it is that the Jerusalem Municipality is about to give final approval to a new Jewish neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem. Located between Talpiot and Beit Safafa (an Arab neighborhood), it will be the first Jewish neighborhood founded over the Green Line since the establishment of Har Homa in 1997.
Approval for the first stage of building was scheduled for two weeks ago, but was scratched because of Operation Pillar of Defense. Hillary Clinton was due here and there was unease about international criticism.
(There was a furor some while ago when building in Jerusalem past the Green Line was announced while VP Biden was here and Clinton proceeded to go ballistic because this "embarrassed" the US.)
Now final approval for the first stage of this new neighborhood is on the agenda for December 19.
Bravo to City Councilor Elisha Peleg (Likud), a member of the Local Planning and Building Committee, who said (emphasis added):
"It's all connected to Clinton.
"We need to show we're an independent sovereign state, and we're doing what we need to do, which is build on all parts of Israel. We need to stop playing the game when Clinton travels here or travels there and we rush to cancel the project.
"I don't think any European country or the US would like it if we got involved in their internal matters. The don't have a right to do this. These places are in full Israeli sovereignty.
"We need to be strong and to continue to build in Jerusalem as much as possible, in order to create facts on the ground that we're not giving up on Jerusalem."
Can we clone him?
The first stage of Givat Hamatos will have 2,600 housing units; the complete neighborhood is slated to have close to 4,000 units. All in all, including plans for new housing in Gil and Har Homa, there will be 7,770 new units for Jews over the Green Line.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by Arlene Kushner, functioning as an independent journalist. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.
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