Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Outrage over Gilo

Condemnation is growing over Israel's "provocative" building in Gilo, a neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

From JPost
"We believe that this morning's announcement by the government of Israel approving the construction of (1,100) housing units in east Jerusalem is counter-productive to our efforts to resume direct negotiations between the parties," Clinton told reporters at a news conference. "As you know, we have long urged both sides to avoid any kind of action which could undermine trust, including, and perhaps most particularly, in Jerusalem, any action that could be viewed as provocative by either side," she added.

EU Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton and British Foreign Secretary William Hague also condemned the move.

Ashton urged Israel to "reverse" its decision to build 1,100 new housing units in Gilo, saying that "settlement activity" threatens the viability of a two-state solution.

Both Ashton and Hague slammed Israel for seemingly ignoring the Quartet of Middle East mediators, which called last week for a resumption of peace talks and for both Israelis and Palestinians to resist "provocative actions."

This new housing plan, Hague said, was just the kind of "provocative" move to be avoided.
This is provocative.  But the stoning of Asher Palmer and his infant son is not provocative.  After all, besides for bodily harm, and as we see in this case, death, stone throwing is a non-violent means of "resistance."  Just like Hamas making it their goal to launch missiles at civilians and schoolbuses and schools and buses and homes and civilians and civilians and civilians is a non-violent means of "resistance."

Really, shame on Israel for actually taking any of that seriously, and making it like it's a provocation.  Palestinian culture is a beautiful thing that is meant to be preserved.

Ok, back to the topic. Gilo.  What is it? A settlement? A town? A new area that popped up? Has the international community - including America - been crying for ages?

From "The Prime Minister of Israel" on Facebook:
Gilo isn't a settlement, but a Jerusalem neighborhood, 5 minutes away from the city center. All Israeli governments have built there. 
From JPost:

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected Western and Arab complaints that the planned construction of 1,100 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo would complicate Middle East peace efforts.

"Gilo is not a settlement nor an outpost. It is a neighborhood in the very heart of Jerusalem about five minutes from the center of town," Netanyahu's spokesman Mark Regev said.

In every peace plan on the table in the past 18 years Gilo "stays part of Jerusalem and therefore this planning decision in no way contradicts" the current Israel government's desire for peace based on two states for the two peoples, he added.

Netanyahu also stressed the construction approval announced on Tuesday was a "preliminary planning decision".
The United States, Europe and Arab states said the announcement would complicate efforts to renew peace talks and defuse a crisis over a Palestinian statehood bid at the United Nations.

Britain and EU called on Netanyahu to reverse the decision, and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said new settlement building would be "counter-productive".

In an interview with The Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu addressed the Gilo building project saying, "I think people now understand that in a metropolitan area like Jerusalem, with three-quarters of a million people, there is planning that takes place for new projects. People have families, families have children, and communities grow: they grow in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem and they grow in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem.

"I have to say that this is one of the areas where Israel’s massive planning bureaucracy gets full international attention. We have so many planning stages, so many phases of approval that every time a plan moves through one of these stages, it gets world headlines."

Netanyahu added: "We plan in Jerusalem. We build in Jerusalem. Period. The same way Israeli governments have been doing for 44 years, since the end of the 1967 war. We build in Jewish neighborhoods, the Arabs build in Arab neighborhoods, that is the way the life of this city goes on and develops for its Jewish and non-Jewish residents alike."
And in PM Netanyahu's speech to the U.N. General Assembly opening week in 2011, he explains that settlements are NOT the issue, and never were.  After all, if they were, then why was Israel attacked in 1948 and 1967, before any "settlements?" Why were there terrorist attacks pre-1967 against Israel, before any "settlements?"  Why did Arabs living in British Mandate of Palestine in the 1920's launch the first terrorist attacks against Zionists, before Israel was even established, and before there were any "settlements?"

Segments of Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech:
We didn't freeze the settlements in Gaza, we uprooted them. We did exactly what the theory says: Get out, go back to the 1967 borders, dismantle the settlements.

And I don't think people remember how far we went to achieve this. We uprooted thousands of people from their homes. We pulled children out of their schools and their kindergartens. We bulldozed synagogues. We even moved loved ones from their graves. And then, having done all that, we gave the keys of Gaza to President Abbas.

Now the theory says it should all work out, and President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority now could build a peaceful state in Gaza. You can remember that the entire world applauded. They applauded our withdrawal as an act of great statesmanship. It was a bold act of peace.

But ladies and gentlemen, we didn't get peace. We got war. We got Iran, which through its proxy Hamas promptly kicked out the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian Authority collapsed in a day - in one day.
President Abbas just stood here, and he said that the core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the settlements. Well, that's odd. Our conflict has been raging for -- was raging for nearly half a century before there was a single Israeli settlement in the West Bank. So if what President Abbas is saying was true, then the -- I guess that the settlements he's talking about are Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jaffa, Be'er Sheva. Maybe that's what he meant the other day when he said that Israel has been occupying Palestinian land for 63 years. He didn't say from 1967; he said from1948. I hope somebody will bother to ask him this question because it illustrates a simple truth: The core of the conflict is not the settlements. The settlements are a result of the conflict.
The settlements have to be --it's an issue that has to be addressed and resolved in the course of negotiations. But the core of the conflict has always been and unfortunately remains the refusal of the Palestinians to recognize a Jewish state in any border. 
I think it's time that the Palestinian leadership recognizes what every serious international leader has recognized, from Lord Balfour and Lloyd George in 1917, to President Truman in1948, to President Obama just two days ago right here: Israel is the Jewish state.
President Abbas, stop walking around this issue. Recognize the Jewish state, and make peace with us. In such a genuine peace, Israel is prepared to make painful compromises.

From Jonathan S. Tobin of Commentary Magazine:
Those who believed the Obama administration’s attitude toward Israel has changed for the better got a rude wakeup call today when Washington condemned the start of a housing project in Jerusalem. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland expressed “disappointment” about the planned building of 1,100 homes in the Gilo section of the city. The Palestinian Authority also attacked the project as yet another “illegal settlement” built on Arab land.  While the administration’s defenders will say the comments from Foggy Bottom are nothing more than standard American criticism of settlement policy, attacks on the right of Jews to live in Gilo have a significance that may presage the outbreak of violence.

The first thing that needs to be understood is Gilo is no settlement. Built on the southern border of the city, it was established more than 40 years ago and is the home of approximately 40,000 residents of Israel’s capital. Up until Barack Obama took office, it was not the subject of much, if any comment, by any previous administration. By seeking to force Israel to cease building houses in existing Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Obama has legitimized Palestinian demands for not only a re-division of the city but also their desire to evict the more than 200,000 Jews who live in those parts that were illegally occupied by Jordan between 1948 and 1967.
But Gilo has a special importance that ought to have been remembered by the administration before they sought to make an issue of it. Gilo is more than just another place where the Palestinians wish to push the Jews out. Only a few short years ago during the second intifada, Gilo was the one section of the city that was under constant murderous sniper fire from the nearby Arab village of Beit Jala. Gilo was the laboratory where Palestinian terrorists sought to discover whether they could force Jews into abandoning their homes. They failed. Despite being subjected to murderous attacks for many months, the Jews of Gilo stood their ground and refused to be intimidated. Gilo became one of many symbols of the courage of the Israeli people and their determination to hold onto Jerusalem.
It should also be pointed out that far from being an obstacle to a putative peace deal, building in Gilo — or any other part of Jerusalem — would have no effect on the creation of a Palestinian state if a peace deal should ever be signed. It is generally understood that even according to President Obama’s idea of a border being created along the 1967 lines with land swaps that Jewish Jerusalem would remain under Israeli sovereignty. The only way homes in Gilo could be construed as an obstacle to peace is if the vision of peace being pursued is one in which every Jew is thrown out of much of the city.
Even worse, by branding Gilo as a place where Jews ought not to live and build, the State Department is doing more than just trying to appease the Palestinians. It is also illustrating that as far as the U.S. is concerned, this place where terror was decisively defeated is up for grabs. That’s a signal Palestinians may wrongly interpret as American indifference to a resumption of violence.

We think that illustrates the full story in a broader sense of what's going on.

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