JERUSALEM – The Obama administration told the Palestinian Authority the “golden era” of Israeli construction in sections of Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank will soon come to an end, a top PA negotiator told WND.
“The U.S. assured us that for the first time since 1967, we are going into a period where there will not be allowed a single construction effort on the part of the Israelis in the settlements, including in Gush Etzion, Maale Adumum and eastern Jerusalem,” said the negotiator, speaking from Ramallah on condition his name be withheld.
Maale Adumim is located in eastern Jerusalem. Israel reunited the eastern and western sections of Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six Day War. Eastern Jerusalem, claimed by the PA for a future state, includes the Temple Mount.
The negotiator told WND the positions of the PA and U.S. regarding ongoing Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem “are closer than ever.”
“The U.S. used to differentiate between natural grown and adding new communities. Not anymore. No construction will be allowed, not even natural growth,” the PA negotiator said.
“Natural growth” means adding additional housing to existing communities to accommodate the needs of a growing population.
The negotiator spoke yesterday just before Defense Minister Ehud Barak took off for Washington, D.C., for meetings with the Obama administration.
The negotiator claimed that while Barak might reach an understanding with the U.S. regarding possible West Bank movements, such a deal would be for Israeli political purposes and wouldn’t translate into actual Jewish construction on the ground.
The Obama administration recently demanded Israel halt all settlement activity, including natural growth, in apparent abrogation of a deal made by President Bush to allow for natural growth.
The deal was forged just prior to Israel’s 2005 retreat from the Gaza Strip. It was confirmed by Sharon aide Dov Weissglas in 2005, and in a Wall Street Journal column last week by Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser to Bush who reportedly negotiated the arrangement. The deal was in line with an official letter from Bush the year before stating Israel cannot be expected to withdraw from the entire West Bank and that the Jewish state would retain major settlement blocs there.
The West Bank borders major Israeli cities and is within rocket firing range of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Israel’s international airport.
Military strategists long have estimated Israel must maintain the West Bank to defend itself from any ground invasion. Terrorist groups have warned if Israel withdraws, they will launch rockets from the West Bank into Israeli cities.
Many villages in the West Bank, which Israelis commonly refer to as the “biblical heartland,” are mentioned throughout the Torah:
The book of Genesis says Abraham entered Israel at Shechem (Nablus) and received God’s promise of land for his offspring. He later was buried in Hebron.
The nearby town of Beit El, anciently called Bethel, meaning “house of God,” is where Scripture says the patriarch Jacob slept on a stone pillow and dreamed of angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. In that dream, God spoke directly to Jacob and reaffirmed the promise of territory.
And in Exodus, the holy tabernacle rested in Shiloh, believed to be the first area the ancient Israelites settled after fleeing Egypt.