Israel Orders New Building in East Jerusalem


Al Jazeera – TRANSCEND Media Service

Tenders for fresh “housing units” made public as Netanyahu government decides to freeze tax revenues to Palestinians.

Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, has ordered the building of 2,000 new housing units for Israelis, mainly in illegally occupied East Jerusalem, an area Palestinians claim as the capital of their future state.

Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday [1 Nov 2011] that the new construction would include settlements that he believed would be part of Israel in a future peace accord. Israeli settlements built on occupied Palestinian land are considered illegal under international law.

Israel also decided on Tuesday to freeze the transfer of tax revenues owed to the Palestinian Authority, as a punitive measure after Palestine was granted full membership of UNESCO, the United Nations’ culture and heritage agency, media reports said.

Saeb Erakat, the former Palestinian chief negotiator, said construction of more housing units was “politically motivated”.

“The land they are going to build settlements on is supposed to be the land of the Palestinian state,” he told Al Jazeera.

“The money they will withhold is Palestinian money. So this is a policy of intimidation and blackmail and we’ll not budge … we’ll continue pursuing our rights.”

Erakat added: “The mere fact that Israel defies the international community, by having more settlements instead of cessation of settlement activities and withholding Palestinian money, which is theft in my opinion, just reflects the nature of the Israeli government attempts to continue undermining the two-state solution. What harm does it bring to Israel when Palestinians join UNESCO?”

Withholding revenues

Al Jazeera’s Nicole Johnson, reporting from Jerusalem, said the Palestinians had reacted with a great deal of anger.

“They said that this is illegal and blackmail … [They] are also very upset about another announcement in the last couple of weeks regarding the construction of a new settlement between Bethlehem and Jerusalem,” she said.

Nicole said the other contentious issue was withholding tax customs and revenues. Israel collects $100m every month on behalf the Palestinians and transfers the money to them, she said.

“Now Israel is withholding that money and this comes at a very difficult time as they’re about to have their second Eid holiday – a time with a lot of expenses,” she said.

The decision to build more housing units was taken at a meeting of senior ministers, chaired by Netanyahu, Israel’s public radio said.

An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the accelerated construction was an answer to the moves being made by the Palestinian Liberation Organisation at the UN in pursuit of statehood recognition.

“You can’t demand from the Israeli public to continue to show restraint when the Palestinian leadership continues to slam the door in their face,” said the official.

He said 1,650 of the new tenders were for units in East Jerusalem, while the rest were for Efrat and Maale Adumim, two illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians object to Israeli housing in East Jerusalem and demand an end to all construction in the settlements before direct talks can resume. Israel rejects that as a precondition.

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2 Responses to “Israel Orders New Building in East Jerusalem”

  1. satoshi says:

    An incredible event was held in Pearl Harbor in 2007. Former American navy soldiers who were defending Pearl Harbor on 8 December 1941 and former Japanese military airplane pilots who attacked Pearl Harbor gathered near Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and they played baseball together. The average age of both veterans was 90 years old. They said that they had been very afraid to join the event and that they had had strong hostility against the former enemy. But once they played baseball together, they became friends. After 66 years of hostility, they made friendship! The wife of one of the American veterans says, “My husband came home very happily from Hawaii. I have never seen him so happy like that. From then on, he kept saying every day, ‘I am happy. I am happy.’ And one day, while he was sitting on the armchair, he died peacefully and happily as he was sleeping.”

    You never know if the similar thing might happen to Palestinians and Israelis one day. Imagine that former enemies play together and that they make friendship! The current trend in the Middle-East is against it. Yes. But wait. Time will tell. Someday. One day.

  2. satoshi says:

    After I posted my comment above, some people told me that the date of the Pearl Harbor attack is “7 December 1941.” It was the US Pacific Time. The attack was held on 8 December 1941 according to the Japan Time.

    It is always a problem about the date of the Pearl Harbor attack. What I wrote above (i.e. both former American soldiers and former Japanese pilots played baseball together near Pearl Harbor) was televized by the Japanese National Television which I confirmed. Accordingly, when I wrote above, I expected Japanese would read my comment above.

    Some years ago, some American researchers conducted a research in Japan about “December 7”. The result was poor. Few Japanese responded to the research. Why? Because, for most Japanese people, “December 7” was the day before the Pearl Harbor attack.

    Anyhow, the main part of my message above is not about the date. My main message above is about the “future friendship between Palestinians and Israelis”.

    Have faith! “Faith” means that you believe it when everything around you is the opposite situation. In other words, faith means that you believe that a rainy day will come when you have only days of drought.

    Thank you for your understanding.