President Obama at White House news conference (White House photo)
JERUSALEM – American Jewish leaders are up in arms over recent U.S demands against Jewish construction in Jerusalem, pointing out that during the presidential campaign President Obama repeatedly told Jewish audiences that Jerusalem must remain undivided.
“I believe that on the issue of Jerusalem and the issue of Iran Obama intentionally misled both Jewish and Christian supporters of Israel,” Mort Klein, president of the Zionist Organization of America, told WND.
“He said as a candidate in 2008 that he supports an undivided Jerusalem and will never permit Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and now we see that these claims were simply false,” said Klein.
Pessach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, told WND, “The Jewish community, in fact, the American community, has the right to expect that what they are told before an election will be what is acted upon after an election.
“Add to this the rights of a sovereign country, an ally, the only democratic state in the Middle East – and we find it very disturbing that the current U.S. administration is dictating to the state of Israel where it can and cannot build in Jerusalem,” Lerner said.
During last year’s presidential campaign, Obama numerous times told Jewish audiences he supports an undivided Jerusalem.
Replying to a 2008 questionnaire that asked about “the likely final status of Jerusalem,” Obama wrote: “The United States cannot dictate the terms of a final status agreement. … Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided.”
In June 2008, Obama delivered a major speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, in which he stated that if elected “Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided.”
Immediately following the speech, WND reported Obama flip-flopped during a CNN appearance, explaining he meant Jerusalem shouldn’t be physically divided with a partition.
“Well, obviously, it’s going to be up to the parties to negotiate a range of these issues. And Jerusalem will be part of those negotiations,” he said in response to a question about whether Palestinians have a legitimate claim to the city.
Obama said “as a practical matter, it would be very difficult to execute” a division of the city. “And I think that it is smart for us to, to work through a system in which everybody has access to the extraordinary religious sites in Old Jerusalem but that Israel has a legitimate claim on that city.”
The State Department last weekend summoned Israel’s ambassador to Washington to demand a Jewish construction project in eastern Jerusalem be immediately halted, it has been confirmed.
The Obama administration has called for a halt to Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank in line with Palestinian claims on eastern Jerusalem as a future capital, even though the city was never a part of any Palestinian entity.
The construction project at the center of attention, financed by Miami Beach philanthropist Irving Moskowitz, is located just yards from Israel’s national police headquarters and other government ministries. It is a few blocks from the country’s prestigious Hebrew University, underscoring the centrality of the Jewish real estate being condemned by the U.S.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly rejected the State Department demand, telling a cabinet meeting Sunday that Israel’s sovereignty over Jerusalem was not a matter up for discussion.
“Imagine what would happen if someone were to suggest Jews could not live in or purchase [property] in certain neighborhoods in London, New York, Paris or Rome,” he said.
“The international community would certainly raise protest. Likewise, we cannot accept such a ruling on East Jerusalem,” Netanyahu told ministers.
In a statement released to WND yesterday, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, long considered one of the most powerful Jewish groups in the U.S., took strong issue with the U.S. demand against Jewish construction in Jerusalem.
“We find disturbing the objections raised to the proposed construction of residential units on property that was legally purchased and approved by the appropriate authorities. The area in question houses major Israeli governmental agencies, including the national police headquarters.”
“The U.S. has in the past and recently raised objections to the removal of illegal structures built by Arabs in eastern Jerusalem even though they were built in violation of zoning and other requirements often on usurped land,” read the statement.
The Jewish organization’s statement pointed out Moskowitz’s housing project formerly was the house of the infamous mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al-Husseini, who spent the war years in Berlin as a close ally of Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, aiding and abetting the Nazi extermination of Jews.
Al-Husseini was also linked to the 1929 massacre of Jews in Jerusalem and Hebron and to other acts of incitement that resulted in deaths and destruction in what was then called Palestine. Some Palestinians have expressed a desire to preserve the building in question as a tribute to Husseini.
Historically, there was never any separation between eastern and western Jerusalem. The terminology came after Jordan occupied the eastern section of the city, including the Temple Mount, from 1947 until it used the territory to attack the Jewish state in 1967. Israel reunited Jerusalem when it won the 1967 Six Day War.
While the U.S. strongly protests any Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, it has been actively aiding Palestinians building illegally on Jewish-owned land in eastern sections of the city, WND has exposed.