Netanyahu and Bennett.
(photo credit: ABIR SULTAN / POOL / AFP,REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is dividing Jerusalem by authorizing 600 new Israeli-Arab homes in the neighborhood of Beit-Safafa, warned Education Minister Naftali Bennett.
“It’s a de-facto way of dividing the city,” Bennett said on Monday as he spoke at the opening session of the annual conference by the Yesha Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria that was held in Jerusalem.
Bennett who heads the right-wing Bayit Yehudi party spoke the morning after learning that Netanyahu had approved 600 new units for the Israeli-Arab neighborhood of Beit Safafa in Jerusalem.
He explained to the audience that the new homes, were effectively, part of the Israeli position of a new Jewish neighborhood on the southern end of the city, called Givat HaMatos.
The neighborhood, which has remained in the planning stages only, is located over the pre-1967 lines and is located near the Jewish Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa and Gilo.
Initial announcements for the project brought instant condemnation from the international community and the Palestinians.
They see Jewish construction in a new Givat Matos neighborhood as cementing a wedge between that will make it impossible to have territorial contiguity in any future state, between what will be Palestinian neighborhoods of eastern Jerusalem and the abutting Palestinian city of Bethlehem.
Bennett told the audience at the settlers conference, that his was precisely why, Israeli-Arab construction in that area, without corresponding Jewish building was dangerous.
“Givat HaMatos is the decisive factor in the unity of Jerusalem,” Bennett said. “It is therefore a strategic point for the future of Jerusalem.”
The international community and the Palestinians want to create territorial continuity between the Palestinian village of Beit Jala and the Jewish Jerusalem neighborhood of Malha, Bennett said.
“We want the exact opposite, Israeli territorial continuity between Talpiot and Gilo, so we can preserve the unity of Jerusalem,” Bennett said.
“I call on the government not to authorize Palestinian building there without Israeli building,” he said.
Moving onto the larger issues of Judea and Samaria and the two-state solution, Bennett it was now clear that Netanyahu had failed in his pursuit of that plan based on a policy he laid out in a 2009 speech at Bar-Ilan.
“This was a strategy of appeasement that has failed,” said Bennett as he attacked Netanyahu, even though his party belongs to the coalition.
Bennett said that moving forward, Israel must annex Area C of the West Bank, where all the settlements are located.
He explained that the Palestinians living, who represent a fraction of those located in Areas A and B of the West Bank, could be given Israeli citizenship.
“At first the world will not accept it, but then it doesn’t accept Israeli sovereignty over the Western Wall either,” Bennett said.
He threw his support behind the call of right-wing politicians to start such a plan of imposing sovereignty on Area C, by annexing the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement.
On Sunday night, Netanyahu agreed to advance plans for 560 new homes there. According to the media, he also approves some 140 new units in three Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem: Har Homa, Ramot and Pisgat Ze’ev.
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