PA minister: Jerusalem construction tenders aim to hinder two-state solution

Israeli government spokeswoman responds by saying that the uproar over the tenders is absurd.

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April 27, 2015 15:22
2 minute read.
Pisgat Ze'ev

Pisgat Ze'ev. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

 
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Amid widespread condemnation over the government issuing 77 tenders for homes in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Pisgat Ze’ev and Neveh Ya’acov, the Israel Lands Authority said on Monday that the uproar is much ado about nothing.

“The tenders were authorized by Uri Ariel, the minister of housing, a few days ago, and there is nothing unusual about this,” said ILA spokeswoman Ortal Tzabar Monday afternoon.

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“Pisgat Ze’ev and Neveh Ya’acov are part of Jerusalem,” she added.

However, Dr. Meir Margalit, a Meretz city councilman who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio in the municipality, said he takes issue with the ILA’s contention that the tenders are not unusual, describing the move as “arrogant and problematic.”

“They think it’s not problematic because according to them these neighborhoods, as annexed land, are an organic part of Israel,” he said. “But for the international community it is problematic. It is occupied territory – it is a settlement – not a ‘neighborhood,’ which they call it.”

The tenders are the first to be issued by the government since the March 17 election, during which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that a Palestinian state would not be created during his tenure.

Netanyahu has since amended his stance, stating that he would support a two-state solution under the right circumstances.



However, Peace Now issued a statement saying that the development is an ominous harbinger of things to come from Netanyahu’s new government.

“Publication of the tenders for Jewish homes in east Jerusalem is liable to be an indicator from Netanyahu’s transitional government of what can perhaps be expected — God forbid — when the new government is formed,” the statement read. “Instead of changing direction and showing that Israel is ready for peace, Netanyahu is sticking to the line he held during his election campaign and seeking to prevent the chance of peace.”

According to the ILA, 41 of the homes are to be built in Pisgat Ze’ev and 36 in Neveh Ya’acov, where 63,000 Israelis currently live. The two neighborhoods comprise mainly apartment buildings, and are defined by Israel as integral neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

The announcement drew immediate denunciation from Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki, who said the planned projects are a violation of international law and show Israel is not interested in peace.

“Israel’s measures aim to hinder the establishment of a viable independent Palestinian state that is geographically connected and to prevent the realization of the two-state solution,” Malki said in Ramallah.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed a year ago, partly over the settlement issue.

Netanyahu, who is trying to form a governing coalition after his March election victory, has pledged to pursue building in Jerusalem neighborhoods and other areas Israel says it intends to keep in any future peace deal with the Palestinians.

Israel regards all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital.

Last month the planned construction of some 1,500 apartments in the capital’s southeastern Har Homa neighborhood was abruptly frozen.

At the time, many speculated the freeze was due to heightened tensions between Netanyahu and the Obama administration, which fiercely criticized his election campaign rhetoric.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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