ZOA Opposes Possible De Facto Freeze On Jewish Construction In E. J’Lem
November 17, 2010


The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is opposing reported moves to implement a de facto freeze upon Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem. In December 2009, the Netanyahu government implemented a one-time, unprecedented 10-month freeze on all Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, after enormous pressure to do so was placed on it by the Obama Administration. However the Netanyahu government explicitly excluded Jerusalem from the ambit of this freeze and insisted that it would not discriminate between Jews and no-Jews in enforcing the right of people to build and move into authorized homes in Jerusalem, including in its eastern half.


Today, however, the Netanyahu government contemplating a three-month extension of the freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, a de facto freeze appears to have been implemented in Jerusalem as well. In the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo, the construction of 130 new homes has been postponed, according to Moshe Ben Sasson, Gilo community liaison with the municipality of Jerusalem, while neighboring Arab residents build without interruption.


According to one report, “a Jerusalem committee removed from its agenda a discussion on the project in order to prevent another crisis between Israel and the Obama administration while U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is trying to sell the idea of a new building freeze in Judea and Samaria. The Palestinian Authority insists the proposed freeze must include the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Gilo, Pisgat Zev, Ramot and all other areas of the capital restored to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War. Approval for building already has been granted, based on the original plans of a hotel, but the developer now wants to build apartments instead. Discussion of a second project involving hundreds of units also was postponed last week prior to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s departure for talks with Secretary Clinton and other officials in Washington. Officially, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that ‘Jerusalem is not a settlement. It is the capital of Israel,’ but Ben Sasson sees the postponement of the project as a de facto freeze. “I am surprised at this decision” by Jerusalem, he said. ‘With all due respect to the American government and its decisions, it is not reasonable that a neighborhood such as Gilo, which needs new housing for young couples, should see building being stopped. At the same time, our Arab neighbors build without interference, and they enjoy the municipal services of Gilo’” (Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, ‘Jerusalem’s Gilo Neighborhood Up in Arms over De Facto Freeze,’ Israel National News, November 17, 2010).


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