US demands halt to Jewish construction in Jerusalem, too

Tuesday, June 02, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

The Obama Administration has reportedly reacted angrily to Israel’s expected approval of plans to build a hotel on municipal-owned land adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City.

If it gains government approval, the hotel will be built just a few hundred feet from the northern wall of the Old City where an Arab wholesale market today stands. The plans call for the market to be replaced by a larger commercial center for local use.

But senior American officials reportedly told Ha’aretz that Washington views those plans as Jewish “settlement activity,” which US President Barack Obama has explicitly forbidden as he drives through his vision for peace in the Middle East.

The officials said the Obama Administration wants expansion of the Jewish presence on the eastern side of Jerusalem to halt completely, especially in the so-called “Holy Basin” - the area surrounding and including the Old City and Temple Mount.

Media commentator Dr. Aaron Lerner of Independent Media Review & Analysis (IMRA) noted that the hostile American response is actually a blessing for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

When it comes to US pressure to uproot unauthorized Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria, the Israeli public is divided, creating a sticky domestic situation for Netanyahu. But nearly all Israelis reject the notion that they do not have a sovereign right to all of Jerusalem, and foreign interference to the contrary will only galvanize them behind their elected leadership.

Ultimately, Obama’s pressure regarding Jewish construction in Jerusalem may make it far easier for Netanyahu to resist demands to halt the building of Jewish homes anywhere in Judea and Samaria.

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