Fighting Over Jerusalem

Shalom Achshav/ Peace Now [Israel]
July 21, 2009

For two days the headlines in the Israeli press have focused on a brewing confrontation between Israel and the United States over the construction of a new settler compound in an Arab neighbourhood of East Jerusalem.

"The reason for the new flare-up is the expected Jewish construction in the Shepherd Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah," explains Shalom Yerushalmi in today's Ma'ariv. "But Sheikh Jarrah is not the problem," Yerusalmi writes. "It is only part of it. The massive Jewish construction in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem effectively blocks any diplomatic solution that involves partitioning the city."

Israeli pundits are seeing the public crisis between Israel and the United States as a battle chosen by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A senior Israeli political official told Ma'ariv that Netanyahu was toughening his position on the demand to stop construction in East Jerusalem as a tactical move in the negotiations over a settlement freeze. "Bibi wants to show that the government has a backbone," the official said.

In Haaretz, columnist Akiva Eldar writes that "Netanyahu has enlisted the Shepherd Hotel issue to ratchet up his campaign against U.S. President Obama and his followers."

Netanyahu "wishes to divert the clash with the Obama administration from the question of construction in the settlements, where he does not enjoy real support, either here or there, to a more convenient playing field," writes Yedioth Ahronoth columnist Nahum Barnea. "This could have been brilliant if it were not so transparent."

The controversy surrounding the plan to create a Jewish enclave in the heart of the Palestinian neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem was part of a recent Peace Now Report which revealed that there are around 2000 settlers in outposts in Palestinian neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem

The report emphasised that it is hard to predict in advance the plans of the settlers to purchase and attain new assets in the Palestinian neighbourhoods. In some cases even the security forces and the authorities know about their plans only after they made facts on the ground and moved into a building.

The report though managed to expose a few of these future plans waiting to be implemented - to read the report and get a background on the issue see here:

From Lee Wilson
Peace Now