Memo to the State Department: Building Houses in a Jerusalem Neighborhood Is Not Settlement Expansion

November 10, 2016 | Jerusalem Post
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Last week, a U.S. State Department spokesman condemned an Israeli decision to allow the construction of residences in Jerusalem, stating that “we strongly oppose settlement activity.” But, write the editors of the Jerusalem Post, this decision by no means qualifies as “settlement activity”:

Last Wednesday the Jerusalem municipality approved the addition of 181 housing units for the capital’s southwestern neighborhood of Gilo, home to some 40,000 mostly Jewish residents. In July, the U.S., EU, and UN criticized Israel for plans to build there as counterproductive to (non-existent) peace negotiations for a future Palestinian state with a capital in east Jerusalem. . . .

Housing construction in a long-established Jerusalem neighborhood—Gilo was founded in 1973—cannot by definition be located in a “settlement.” But the meaning of words doesn’t matter to the European Union, which said the decision to build in “the settlement of Gilo, built on occupied Palestinian land in east Jerusalem, undermines the viability of a two-state solution.”

Almost half a century since Israel reunited its bitterly divided capital city, . . . the media ignorantly parrot the Palestinian narrative that claims east Jerusalem as its future capital, as if the section of the city that the invading Arab Legion captured and that Jordan occupied for nineteen years had been a historic entity. Consistent with this warped view, the foreign media insistently refer to Jews living in the heart of their historic capital as “settlers.” . . .

One country stands out in its defense of truth from those who seek to delegitimize Israel: Australia. Its attorney-general [announced] last week that Australia will no longer refer to east Jerusalem as “occupied” territory.

The expansion of Jerusalem’s neighborhoods to accommodate the city’s growing population is a matter for the municipality. It is not the concern of third parties such as the U.S. State Department, which would be doing all of us a favor by simply studying the facts.

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