Thursday, November 19, 2009

Israeli Desire For Abbas To Stay Contradicted By East Jerusalem Plans

A strange disconnect has developed regarding the threatened resignation of Mahmoud Abbas (left), Palestinian president. Israel knows that Abbas is a reasonable man who renounces terror, supports a two-state solution and presents a positive alternative to Hamas:

The Israeli security establishment is in a state of alarm over the possible departure of Mr. Abbas, whom it considers a genuine moderate. Some of its top members are urging their government to make far-reaching offers — “not just lifting a few roadblocks,” in the words of one — that would persuade him to stay in power and resume negotiations with Israel on a solution that involves creating an independent Palestinian state.

...“Everyone is running around in circles trying to rebuild this process, to find some way to start it up again,” a senior Israeli official observed. “No one knows if it is possible.”

This sense of alarm is contradicted by Israeli settlement plans in East Jerusalem–seen by Palestinians as their future capital–that certainly won't strengthen Abbas or encourage him to stay:

Mr. Abbas has repeatedly stated that the only way forward is with a complete Israeli freeze on settlement building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has offered to greatly reduce building, but not to stop it — and added that East Jerusalem would not be included. His government just announced plans to build hundreds of new units in a part of the city captured in 1967.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Nof Zion, an apartment complex in Jebel Mukaber, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem, and other actions are all part of this process:

The cornerstone-laying ceremony at Nof Zion took place a day after the Israeli authorities moved ahead with plans for the expansion of Gilo, a Jewish residential district in south Jerusalem also on land captured in the 1967 war. The plans for 900 more housing units drew a sharp rebuke from the White House.

...Across town, in the Arab East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya, the Israeli authorities on Wednesday demolished a Palestinian home that had been built without a permit. The security forces accompanying the bulldozers were pelted with stones. Several other unauthorized structures were taken down in other Arab areas, including Silwan.

When it comes to demolitions, Jerusalem’s City Hall says it applies the law equally in all parts of the city, regardless of religion or race. But officials acknowledge that the process of obtaining a building permit is costly and complicated. Most Palestinian residents do not qualify.

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