The office of Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat announced July 6 that it expected approval for the construction of 800 new housing units in neighborhoods across the Green Line, but the statement received very little attention. The White House has not condemned the move, even though Barkat said in his statement, “Construction in Jerusalem is necessary, important and will continue in full force so as to enable more young people to live in Jerusalem, build their future there and strengthen the capital of Israel.”
The plan includes the Jewish neighborhoods of Pisgat Zeev, Neve Yaakov, Ramot and Gilo, in addition to the construction of 114 housing units in East Jerusalem. Still, this number is minuscule, considering the housing crisis in the city’s Arab neighborhoods, and certainly when compared to the planned scope of construction in its Jewish neighborhoods.
Netanyahu’s office was informed of the construction plan and gave it the green light, so that this was not a case of Barkat taking advantage of the situation. The procedure for updating the prime minister went into effect in 2010, during the Barack Obama administration. It was instigated by a serious crisis that broke out between Netanyahu and the White House, following an announcement that construction of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem had been approved. That announcement was made on the day that Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel for an official visit in March 2010. The Americans were furious. Netanyahu claimed he knew nothing about it. To appease the Americans, he ordered the creation of a committee to investigate the chain of events that led to the approval.
Tracking Netanyahu’s attitude toward construction in the settlements ever since he was elected in 2009 is a fascinating exercise. It reveals that he adopts the same tactic time and again, maneuvering between the Israeli hard right and the US administration.
Unlike the chairman of pro-settlement HaBayit HaYehudi, Naftali Bennett, Netanyahu is not an ideologue who advocates construction in the West Bank. Nevertheless, as leader of the right, he is expected to show that he identifies with the settlement enterprise and is taking action to support it. On the other hand, Netanyahu is also well aware of how sensitive the international community and the United States in particular are to anything to do with construction across the 1967 Green Line, which is considered detrimental to the implementation of a two-state solution.
During the Obama administration, the White House showed zero tolerance toward construction in the settlements. For his part, Netanyahu agreed to freeze construction in the West Bank a as proof of how serious he is to advancing the idea of a two-state solution, as he declared in his Bar Ilan speech in 2009. As far as the right was concerned, it was nothing less than a disaster.
The freeze lasted 10 months, during which Israel kept its commitment. Even after that period, however, Netanyahu continued to act in a balanced manner. He showed restraint and would not allow a frenzy of construction across the Green Line.
The prime minister is using the same tactic today, during the Donald Trump administration. With the end of the Obama administration, the settler right, led by Bennett, called for a new wave of construction and annexation in the territories, arguing that Trump was pro-settler and that this was a historic window of opportunity, which they would probably never see again. To their chagrin, Netanyahu was unwilling to remove all restraints. He showed moderation, even before Trump asked him to do so.
Right after Trump’s inauguration, the Municipality of Jerusalem took the symbolic step of approving the construction of 566 housing units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. It was a measured step, taken with Netanyahu’s knowledge. Several weeks later, Netanyahu took steps to block a law proposed by Bennett to annex the settlement town of Maale Adumim by presenting the Cabinet with plans to build new housing in the settlement blocs. At the time, he explained that it was important that the Israeli government not surprise the new US administration with an annexation proposal. Bennett was appeased and Netanyahu scored another successful maneuver to his credit.
Netanyahu and Minster of Defense Avigdor Liberman later approved the planning and construction of 2,500 housing units in the West Bank. Nevertheless, settlement umbrella organization the Yesha Council responded that the program was deceptive, as it failed to meet the settlers’ needs. Once again, they called on the government to approve all construction plans already on the shelf and to release construction tenders throughout the entire territory of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.
From his perspective, Netanyahu once again showed his commitment to construction in the settlements. At the same time, however, he made sure not to get carried away. He restrained himself even before Trump asked him to do so explicitly, during the prime minister’s visit to the White House in February. “We will make an effort and assess it,” Netanyahu responded to Trump at the time.
One month later, the Cabinet approved the construction of a new settlement, the first in two decades, for the Amona settlement evacuees. At the same time, Netanyahu notified his ministers of the marketing of 2,000 housing units out of the 5,700 units planned for the West Bank.
As a result, the White House said that Trump expressed his concerns about the settlements both publicly and privately. Netanyahu got the message and immediately presented his Cabinet with the understandings he had reached with the US administration to restrain construction in the settlements. At the time, his office announced that in consideration of the president’s positions, Israel would take significant steps to limit construction sites beyond the existing allotted to construction in the settlements, all in an effort to advance the peace process. Furthermore, it was announced that Israel would not allow the creation of any new illegal outposts.
Netanyahu informed his Cabinet about the new policy, which took the position of the US president into consideration. He stressed to his ministers that the Trump administration will be keeping close tabs on its implementation and that “the policy of restraint should be implemented. We should not try to deceive the Americans, because they know about every house that is built in the settlements.”
In advance of Trump’s May visit to Israel, Netanyahu’s office even ordered that a discussion about construction in the settlements be postponed to avoid a conflict with the Whitehouse.
So far, Netanyahu has managed to maneuver successfully. He can use the pressure applied to him by Bennett to show the Americans how complicated his situation is, given the demands of his right-wing coalition partners. At the same time, in dealing with the settlers, he uses Trump’s demand to restrain construction and explains why he must act responsibly. He really is a whiz at survival.
An antisemitic flyer found on the University of Houston campus on Tuesday. Photo: Michael Leone / Facebook
Dozens of flyers and stickers promoting neo-Nazi propaganda were found at the University of Houston (UH) this week, the latest incident associated with an increase in white supremacist activity on campuses nationwide.
The flyers, found on bulletin boards, walls, trash bins, and lamp posts at the university’s main campus on Tuesday, included phrases such as, “Beware the International Jew” and “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” according to a statement shared online by UH’s chapter of the Young Communist League (YCL).
IDF soldiers make a blessing on the traditional Jewish custom of apple and honey to welcome Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. (ChameleonsEye / Shutterstock.com)
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (The Fellowship) and Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF) said they will provide $1.5 million in annual Rosh Hashanah “Fellowship Gift Cards” to 12,000 IDF soldiers marking the upcoming Jewish New Year.
The initiative, coordinated in collaboration with the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers and the LIBI Fund, will provide more than 10,000 lone soldiers and soldiers $140 gift cards. Another 2,200 soldiers will receive gift cards worth $100.
The cards “will allow the soldiers to celebrate the New Year without the burden of financial stress,” the organizations said in a statement Wednesday.
Gaza-based terror group says it will agree to Palestinian Authority conditions on forming joint government and holding elections
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, center, and spokesman Fawzi Barhoum attend a protest in Gaza City on July 22, 2017, against new Israeli security measures implemented at the holy site, which include metal detectors and cameras, following an attack that killed two Israeli policemen the previous week. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)
For the past week or so, Iranian official media and social networks have been abuzz with anecdotes woven around a football match in Tehran between Iran and Syria and the light it might shed on a complicated relationship.
According to most accounts, a group of Syrians flown in by special charter to cheer their national squad in its bid for a place in the World Cup in Moscow staged an anti-Iran demonstration in the stadium. The Syrian contingent included young ladies who refused to wear the Iranian-style hijab.
Their presence in the stadium highlighted the fact that no Iranian woman is allowed to attend a football match after a fatwa by the “Supreme Guide” that women watching young men running around with bare legs might cause “undue excitement”
An Orthodox man passes a British guard in London, UK. (drserg / Shutterstock.com)
A new in-depth survey conducted by the U.K.-based Institute for Jewish Policy Research (JPR) found that around 30 percent of the British public hold at least one anti-Semitic viewpoint.
The report noted, however, that most of the 30 percent polled also held some positive views about Jews.
Further, around 15 percent of the British public indicated they agreed with two or more anti-Semitic views presented to them, while two percent of British adults polled were found to be “hard-core” anti-Semites.
The survey was conducted by JPR senior research fellow Dr. Daniel Staetsky using face-to-face interviews and online polls.
That’s followed by the sounds of the terrorists assaulting a passenger.
“Please don’t hurt me,” he pleads. “Oh God.”
As the passengers rush the cabin, a Muslim terrorist proclaims, “In the name of Allah.”
As New York firefighters struggle up the South Tower with 100 pounds of equipment on their backs trying to save lives until the very last moment, the Flight 93 passengers push toward the cockpit. The Islamic hijackers call out, “Allahu Akbar.”.
The autumn of 2015 was unusual in almost every way on the north Aegean Greek island of Lesbos from which I am writing. There were tens of thousands of illegal migrants on the island, the native population of which was scarcely 100,000. New refugees arrived every day by the thousands.
One evening, the blue-gray sky grumbled shortly after sunset. The thick clouds blackened and rain poured down over the city with a roar. As I ran across the slippery pavement into a friend’s bar, I heard a group of five poor souls speaking Persian with a Turkic accent and running amok, seeking shelter under the eaves of a building.
Back in May, a New Orleans statue of Joan of Arc was tagged with “Tear it Down” graffiti.
Why Joan of Arc? Any famous historical figure is by definition controversial. Joan is a French national
symbol, but Shakespeare depicted her as a malicious witch. The French Quarter where the statue stands is a mostly white neighborhood. France was dealing with a controversial election.
This is what happens when you open a can of historical, religious and nationalistic worms.
Regarding the question that forms the title of this article, I truly believe that the answer is “yes.” It is my belief that Christian Zionism is as obvious a sign of the beginning of the redemption of Israel as are the ingathering of millions of Jews to the land of Israel and the existence of the State of Israel itself. But there are many people who don’t share this perspective.
In the Jewish community, there are still many who are wary of Christian friendship and support. Many Jews are suspicious of an ulterior motive to convert Jews to Christianity that they fear underlies this political partnership.
Last weekend, the world experienced a petrifying “wake up call” when Pyongyang test launched a hydrogen bomb. According to Yukiya Amano, director of the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA), Sunday’s test represents “a new dimension to the threat.” Added Amano, “I think the North Korean threat is a global one now.
In the past, people thought it was a regional one, but that is no longer the case.”
Since 1994, when North Korea decided to pull out of the Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), there has been a huge history of attempts to chain the North Korean nuclear beast, including efforts for military cooperation, sanctions and, of course, negotiations.