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August 8, 2009: Bibi’s Other Side

August 30, 2009

Motzei Shabbat (After Shabbat)

I wrote the other day about rumors that PM Netanyahu has already promised to freeze settlement construction and indications that this might possibly be the case.

But there is a flip side, and it’s important that this, as well, be shared: There is every evidence that we have a prime minister who intends to keep Jerusalem united under Israeli sovereignty, and means it when he says that it’s unthinkable that Jews should be prevented from living anywhere in Jerusalem. This is major.

I’ve written about the Shepherd Hotel and plans to build for Jews there.

But there is also the issue of the eviction last week of two squatter Arab families from a building in a small Jerusalem neighborhood called Shimon HaTzadik (alternately referred to as adjacent to or part of Sheikh Jarrah). After considerable legal squabbling, it was determined by the High Court that the building has been owned by Jews of the Sephardic community for over 120 years.

There was an international uproar over this — and once again our ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, was the recipient of protest from the State Department. Likely you’ve seen photos in the news of the poor Arab families that the Israeli government is treating so unjustly. But Netanyahu is holding strong.


Following a statement by Secretary of State Clinton that the evictions were “provocative,” former MK Rabbi Benny Elon issued a statement:

“This is a case of stolen property that was finally returned to its owners. This land has belonged to Jews for over 100 years; the famed Rabbi Shmuel Salant purchased the land. Such statements by the Secretary of State are real chutzpah and contempt of Israeli sovereignty. Jerusalem is run according to Israeli law.

“The Tabu records show that the property belongs to us, yet we even paid some of the Arabs compensation money in order that they leave. We needed a lot of patience; this was a ten-year struggle, but in the end, it paid off and justice has been served.”


The involvement of international elements in the fight for Jerusalem is clear. Rabbi Elon alluded to this, when he said that:

“The absurdity of the issue is that in recent years, many of those living here were actually left-wing anarchists. It’s unbelievable, but in most of the buildings, hardly any Arabs lived; they were rather fortresses of anarchists from Sweden and Europe; all the walls were full of graffiti in English.”

While Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon has expressed concern about the comments of a British diplomat that his country was funding Arab neighborhoods in eastern Jerusalem to “halt Israeli expansion.”

The Foreign Ministry is demanding an explanation from London:

“…we will not accept these things, of course – not the funding of various organizations or things that have to do with internal politics and Israel’s internal affairs…Israel 277 views this with great gravity.”


Undoubtedly the British diplomat who is reported to have made this statement did not expect it to travel to Israel (or perhaps expected the Israeli government to turn a blind eye, which Baruch Hashem, is not happening).

Arutz Sheva reports that the statement was made on July 22, in Arabic, during an interview on Al-Arabiya television, by the diplomat Martin Day, who is based in Abu Dhabi. According to a transcript of the interview, Day said the British government was “taking practical steps towards freezing settlement activities.”

“For instance,” Day said, “we finance projects aimed at halting settlement activities. One of these projects seeks to build new Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem and save Palestinian houses from demolition… we also finance organizations that monitor settlement activities.”


There will undoubtedly be more to say about this entire issue, as the property that the Court has determined is owned by Jews covers over 4 acres (17 dunams).

But I observe here that the international community only refuses to respect Israeli court decisions when they permit Jews residence somewhere that Arabs would prefer they not reside. When it works the other way, the world is silent.

In the neighborhood of Shimon HaTzadik (which bears this name because the tomb of the 4th Century BCE High Priest Simon the Just is located there) Jews have been acquiring property that was formerly Jewish for some years now. When I first toured the area some time ago, I was delighted at seeing a hundred year old building, constructed with thick stone walls: it had a niche in the door way that had obviously been for a mezuzah (the parchment with Biblical text that Jews are commanded to place in their doorways). This very clearly had been a Jewish building, and after a very long time, it once again had a Jewish resident.

We are returning to what was ours.


I recommend this brief on the subject from the Jewish Center for Public Affairs. It is highly informative and even includes a map.



I also recommend a piece by Lenny Ben David regarding the lesson the Arabs may finally learn from the Shepherd Hotel issue regarding their perception that they can wage “wars of limited liability” against us. This too is informative and provides historical perspective.



Fatah is doing very well at exposing their true intentions at their Bethlehem Conference.

On Friday, they resolved not to renew peace negotiations with us until: All Palestinian prisoners are released from our prisons, all settlement building is frozen, and the Gaza blockade is lifted. There were, according to Fatah Central Committee member Nabil Sha’ath, some other nine pre-conditions for sitting down with us, as well.

Today, according to reports, they went a great deal further, issuing a document that BOTH eastern and western Jerusalem most be returned to Palestinian control. The document calls this a “red line” that is not negotiable. It further maintains that villages surrounding Jerusalem are also Palestinian, and that lands outside and inside the Green Line have the same status.

Ostensibly, until now, they had been claiming only eastern Jerusalem as their capital-to-be. But I’ve long noticed that they don’t routinely say “East Jerusalem,” but merely “Jerusalem.” Now it’s explicit.

(A note: I never refer to “East Jerusalem,” as this implies a separate place. I say, as you may have observed, “eastern Jerusalem,” which implies one part of a unified whole.)


According to Khaled Abu Toameh, the pre-conditions for negotiations with Israel are not binding on Mahmoud Abbas, who has just been unanimously re-elected head of Fatah (he was the only contender for the position). But what was voted on — certainly in terms of the release of prisoners, freezing of settlements, etc. — actually comports with statements Abbas himself has made at the Conference. And it seems to me that the political climate is such that he would not dare appear soft in any event.

Certainly here in Israel response to what’s been happening at the Conference is an enormous hardening of attitudes, and most properly so. There are calls for more building in the settlements and Minister Yisrael Katz is urging the government to expand the municipal authority of Jerusalem to include Ma’aleh Adumim, Givat Ze’ev, Gush Etzion, and Beitar.

Don’t believe this will happen tomorrow, but it sure sounds good to me.


Just as what has been voted on at the Fatah Conference would make it difficult for Abbas to appear soft, this has to stiffen Netanyahu’s spine. It would be difficult for him (even if he were inclined, which he may not be right now) to make concessions to a group that is so totally devoid of conciliatory tone — especially as he says he insists on reciprocity.

The fact is that there is saber rattling in the words of Fatah. In his acceptance speech, Abbas spoke again about their right to “armed resistance.” And in the document on securing all of Jerusalem it says Palestinians would “continue to be sacrificed until residents of Jerusalem are free of settlements and settlers.”

Sacrificed? We’re talking suicide bombers and the like here.

I am waiting for word of what Obama has to say about this turn of events.


On a fairly ludicrous note: The Fatah Conference also passed a resolution accusing Israel of having assassinated Arafat.

Actually, the accusations with regard to Arafat’s death have been flying hot and heavy. Not so many days ago, PLO strongman Farouk Kaddoumi claimed to have a document proving Abbas had a hand in it, in a conspiracy with former PM Sharon.

An investigative committee has been appointed and apparently the entire Central Committee (past, not incoming) will be questioned.




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