Meretz Councilman Dr. Meir Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem Portfolio, responded to Thursday’s government approval of tenders for construction of homes in the eastern portion of the city by questioning Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s sanity.
Of the 1,500 homes approved for construction beyond the Green Line, 400 will be built in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood of Jerusalem and the rest will be built in a number of different settlements in the West Bank. During a 2010 visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, announced plans to construct there sparked a major row with the US regarding building rights in sections of the capital that are located over the Green Line.
They were also seen as destabilizing the proximity talks now taking place between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“I think that the prime minister is losing his mind to make such a provocation now, which goes against the Americans more than the Palestinians,” he said by phone. “The main goal of this action is to destroy any chance for further negotiations, which is exactly what the Americans are trying to do.”
Moreover, Margalit contended that the move will result in Israel’s increased isolation internationally.
“To the international community the prime minister has lost his mind, and it will only encourage them to take more action against Israel because the government has become so unreasonable that the Western world will realize that something proactive must be done in order to save what remains of the peace process,” he said.
Margalit continued that the decision unequivocally proves that Netanyahu is “unreasonable,” and not a viable “partner for peace.”
“He did a big favor for the Left of Israel and the Palestinian cause because nothing is better than him proving how unreasonable this government is, and this country has become,” he said. “As we’ve said for a long time, Israel is not a partner for peace, and now Netanyahu has given us the best proof that it’s true.”
The councilman added that the international community should respond with greater isolation of Israel economically, through ongoing boycotts, and perhaps by imposing sanctions.
“I hope the international community will react as soon as possible through economic punishment, because this is the only language this government understands,” he opined.
Meanwhile, in a statement released by the Jerusalem Municipality, Mayor Nir Barkat welcomed the announcement, noting the importance of creating more accessible housing for young families who presently cannot afford prohibitive home prices in the capital.
“Mayor Barkat and the Jerusalem Municipality give their blessing to the Israeli government and the Minister of Housing and Construction regarding any building permits that are granted in Jerusalem,” the statement read.
“Building in Jerusalem is an essential part of the city’s development and enabling young people to live in the city.”