Why Netanyahu let Barkat move ahead with Silwan plan

PM makes distinction between development in West Bank and Jerusalem.

311_Silwan (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not step in and try to convince Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to shelve the Gan Hamelech plan in Silwan because of the distinction he makes between development in the West Bank and in Jerusalem, officials in the Prime Minister’s Office said on Monday.
“The prime minister obviously understands the sensitivity of the issue of Jerusalem, but he has been very clear, and has said continuously, that the settlement freeze in the West Bank does not include Jerusalem, and he has never said he would freeze development in Jerusalem,” the official said.
Just before US Vice President Joe Biden’s visit here in March, Netanyahu asked Barkat to postpone pushing forward with the plan and to try to come to an agreement with local residents, some of whose homes were to be demolished.
“We are still hopeful that the dialogue will lead to an agreement,” the official said, adding, however, that Netanyahu did not intervene now – on the eve of his visit next week to Washington for a meeting with US President Barack Obama – because the process is in its very preliminary stages, nothing is happening right away nor happening on the ground, and there is ample time for objections to be heard and considered.
The official said there was “transparency” on this issue with the US, and that Washington was both well aware of the nature of the plan, and of the distinction Netanyahu makes between Jewish construction in the West Bank, where there is a temporary moratorium, and in Jerusalem, where the moratorium was never imposed.