Peace Now protests new building at Givat Ze'ev

On an empty hilltop on the outskirts of the Givat Ze'ev settlement, some 25 left-wing activists gathered Tuesday to protest the construction of a 750-unit project at the site, approximately five kilometers outside Jerusalem. They stood at the end of a dusty road, next to a few half-built apartment buildings holding large white signs that said: "Stop building, start talking." A police jeep blocked the road leading to the site, known as Agan Ha'ayalot, which is on a hilltop adjacent to the rest of the settlement. The protesters were so visually removed from the rest of Givat Ze'ev that they couldn't even its red rooftops. And no one but the few reporters who showed up could see them. Still, the activists shouted, sang and gave a few short speeches as police officers stood to the side and watched. Peace Now secretary general Yariv Oppenheimer warned that projects such as this one, which was approved in March, threaten a two-state solution with the Palestinians. He told The Jerusalem Post that this project and others like it - including two which were approved only Friday for 48 homes in the settlement of Ariel and 52 in Elkana - are against the US-sponsored road map that binds both Israel and the Palestinians. Activist Mosi Raz said the government talked about making peace, but acted as if it was an "extremist right-wing government" because "it is building everywhere in the West Bank." Right-wing Zionist leader Ze'ev Jabotinsky, for whom the settlement was named, would have been proud to see the new construction of homes, said Emilie Grunzeig, a student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. "We are not," she added. The United States and the international community has called on Israel to halt such projects, but the government has said it has the right to build in areas such as Givat Ze'ev, which it believes would be retained by Israel during a final status agreement with the Palestinians.