Six years ago, Israeli officials announced a plan to construct new residential buildings in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos, which has been part of the Jewish state since 1949 and therefore should not be of concern to those who insist that the presence of “settlements” in the West Bank is the cause of the Palestinian predicament. The U.S. State Department nonetheless responded with a vigorous condemnation, and, in response to pressure from the White House, Israel postponed the plan. On Sunday, licenses were issued to begin the construction of 1,257 new homes in the neighborhood. Ruthie Blum comments:
Outrage at the building plan, which has been in the works for six years, was swift to emerge from the usual suspects: the Israeli NGO Peace Now, the Palestinian Authority, the European Union, and the United Nations. It’s basically all one needs to know before forming an opinion about the move.
Never mind that the neighborhood, originally filled with trailers for the housing of new immigrants from Ethiopia, is outside the so-called Green Line, [established as Israel’s de-facto eastern border during the 1949 armistice with Jordan]. Forget that the plan includes a phase of the construction of Arab housing on private lands belonging to the nearby Palestinian town of Beit Safafa. Disregard the shortage of land available for Jewish housing in Jerusalem—a situation that has caused a hike in rent and purchase prices, as well as an exodus from the Israeli capital.
None of the above prevented the administration of then-U.S. President Barack Obama from throwing a fit at the end of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s October 1, 2014 visit to the White House. Though the purpose of the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama had been to discuss Iran and Islamic State, it was upstaged by reports in the Israeli media, courtesy of Peace Now, about—gasp—apartments slated for Givat Hamatos.