Edelstein: While Islamic State slaughters, West is focused on building in Jerusalem

Livni accuses "the Bennetts" of being dangerous to Zionism for opposing two states.

October 2, 2014 13:10
3 minute read.
Sebastian Kurz

Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein. (photo credit: KNESSET SPEAKER YULI EDELSTEIN'S OFFICE)

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein blasted the West for criticizing Israel for building homes in Jerusalem when there are more pressing security issues, in a meeting with Austrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz in Vienna Thursday.

Edelstein slammed Western leaders’ “Pavolovian reaction” to the anticipated construction of 2,700 homes in the southeastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, which was planned two years ago without complaint until Peace Now released a report on the topic on Wednesday.

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“It’s too bad that while the Islamic State is slaughtering, murdering and threatening the West, everyone is interested in a few homes being built in Jerusalem,” he stated.

Kurz said he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas after his speech in the UN General Assembly on Saturday and got the impression that he has lost hope in the peace process.

Edelstein expressed his disappointment that Abbas did not take advantage of the Arab world’s lack of support for Hamas during Operation Protective Edge and chose to bury the chance for peace with a speech to the UN that was full of falsehoods.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said that “the Bennetts,” a reference to Bayit Yehudi leader and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett along with his supporters, who oppose a two-state solution are “a danger to the Zionist enterprise” and are of greater concern than Peace Now, which writes reports on construction in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

“I won’t be part of this collective giving up” on a two-state solution, Livni told Israel Radio.

“If we want to keep Jerusalem and the settlement blocs in a future agreement, we must act wisely and not take steps that could erode international support for Israel,” she said.

In response, the Bayit Yehudi spokesman said that “it may be hard to part from the idea of a Palestinian state in the Land of Israel, but Mrs. Livni should take out her frustration on the Palestinians who are busy with terrorism instead of Bayit Yehudi, which is trying to repair the harm it causes.”

Meanwhile, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Ze’ev Elkin (Likud) accused Peace Now of trying to create a wedge between Israel and the US and told Israel Radio the Knesset will have to find ways to deal with such organizations.

Deputy Minister for Liaison with the Knesset Ofir Akunis said that Peace Now’s “informing” on construction in Jerusalem won’t change anything.

“Jerusalem has been the capital of the Jewish People for 3,000 years and building it up is not poisoning any atmosphere,” Akunis said, referring to comments by US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki. “It is our natural and historic right to build in Jerusalem.”

Shas leader Arye Deri said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was right in rejecting American criticism of the building plans.

“America shouldn’t be the spokesperson for Peace Now. The Jewish people prayed for generations not to forget Jerusalem. Shas will completely back the government on the topic of Jerusalem,” Deri stated.

Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said the building plans in Jerusalem and The Ir David Foundation (Elad) buying homes in a neighborhood near the Old City of Jerusalem called Kfar Hashiloah, also known as Silwan, are a provocation by Netanyahu and his “right-wing settlement government.”

“Netanyau is ignoring [US] President Barack Obama’s criticism and forgetting that Israel needs the Americans as part of an international camp of which we want to be a member,” Gal-On said.

“His dismissal of the Obama administration’s criticism and his lashing out at Peace Now show he’s panicking and losing his senses.”

Gal-On added that, while Netanyahu told Obama he is committed to a two-state solution, he is doing everything to destroy the chances of it happening.

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