Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Netanyahu Expedites Plan for More Than 1,000 New Apartments in East Jerusalem

By ISABEL KERSHNER and JODI RUDOREN, NYT
OCT. 27, 2014

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that Israel would fast-track planning for 1,060 new apartments in populous Jewish neighborhoods of East Jerusalem, a move that appears calibrated to appeal to the maximum number of Israelis while causing the minimum damage to Israel internationally, according to Israeli analysts.

But as is often the case, Mr. Netanyahu’s decision prompted swift international condemnation at a time when Israel’s relations with Washington are already strained and risked further igniting Palestinian anger and tensions in Jerusalem. It was also unlikely to satisfy the right-wing political rivals it was intended to appease, the analysts said.

Right-wing ministers have been pressuring Mr. Netanyahu to speed construction in what most of the world considers illegal settlements in the West Bank. Naftali Bennett of the pro-settlement Jewish Home party had threatened to destabilize the government coalition, accusing Mr. Netanyahu of carrying out a quiet building freeze despite many announcements about the advancement of plans.

Unlike more far-flung settlements in the West Bank, building in East Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the 1967 lines enjoys wide support among Israeli politicians and the public, given the broad consensus in the country that these are areas Israel is likely to keep under any permanent deal with the Palestinians. Analysts note that the parameters for a two-state solution outlined by President Bill Clinton in 2000 envisioned granting Israel sovereignty over Jewish areas in Jerusalem and the Palestinians sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods, though it was not clear if that allowed for enlarging those Jewish areas over time.

(More here.)

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