Monday, December 31, 2007

PM Olmert: 'Yesha Construction Stops Here'

Hillel Fendel

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has sent a letter to his Defense, Housing and Agriculture Ministers, stating clearly, "Your approval is not sufficient; from now on, all construction in Judea and Samaria - including additions to existing structures - must be OK'ed by me." Defense Minister Ehud Barak must approve all construction as well.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) responded sharply: "Even in the days of the White Paper [during the 1930's, when the British rulers tried to choke Jewish growth in the Holy Land - ed.], the British High Commissioner did not need to give his approval any time someone wanted to close in a porch. The time has come for civil disobedience against Olmert, who wants to choke the settlement enterprise."

Olmert: No Building At All Until March
Olmert also says he must review every new building plan or housing tender issued in Judea and Samaria. It is widely assumed that this is just another step by Olmert towards making sure that U.S. President George Bush, who is set to visit Israel next week, has nothing to chastise Israel about on the settlement front. Olmert told Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim last week that all construction in Yesha is officially frozen for at least the next two months.

Also last week, Olmert said building in Jerusalem-neighborhood Har Homa must stop, after Bush expressed his consternation at Israel's freely building apartments in its capital. Har Homa, located just east of Gilo, was liberated in the Six Day War and was immediately annexed, along with the Old City and other areas, to the nation's capital. Most of its land was state-expropriated from Jewish owners, while a small part had belonged to Arabs; no homeowners were displaced to build what is now a 2,500-family neighborhood.

Calls, Again, on Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu
Olmert's decision became yet another occasion for right-wing figures to call upon the right-leaning Shas Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel Our Home) to quit the government and thereby bring it down. Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan said, "Let there be no doubt: Jerusalem is also part of this no-building ban. We call upon the parties that are still loyal to the Zionist enterprise to shorten the government's days and topple it; it has lost its right to exist."

The Road Map stipulates an end to Palestinian terrorism against Israel while Israel stops construction in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. However, the Olmert government is going along with the Bush-Rice administration's demand that Israel fulfill its obligation even before the PA shows signs of fulfilling its own.

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