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JERUSALEM – Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is planning to press Israel over the weekend to cease Jewish construction in the eastern sections of Jerusalem, informed senior diplomatic officials told WND.
Clinton is scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem Sunday in her first official trip to Israel since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took office in March.
According to the informed diplomatic officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Obama administration has been disappointed by a lack of progress on Israeli-Palestinian issues brokered by George Mitchell, the White House’s envoy to the Mideast.
Clinton is being sent by the White House on a brief visit to Jerusalem to lend her stature to Mideast talks and to deliver a message from the Obama administration that will involve pressing Israel to halt construction in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank, the diplomatic officials told WND. The officials said Clinton’s message emanates from the White House and not specifically from the State Department.
Clinton will stay in Israel for only a few hours. She will meet the day before in Abu Dhabi with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The Obama administration has been calling on Israel to halt all Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem.
Speaking at the U.N. General Assembly in September, Obama issued a strongly worded demand for the creation of a “viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967.”
The term “occupation” routinely is used by the Palestinians as well as some countries hostile to the Jewish state in reference to Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Jerusalem. It is unusual for U.S. presidents to use the term, although Jimmy Carter once famously called Israel’s presence in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem “illegal.”
“Occupation that began in 1967” is a specific reference to the lands Israel retained after the Six Day War of that year, particularly the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount.
The Palestinians never maintained any official capacity in either territory, lands in which Jews have been present for thousands of years. The territories came under Jordanian rule from 1948 until Israel captured them in 1967 after Jordan’s King Hussein ignored Israeli pleas for his country to stay out of the Six Day War. Most countries rejected Jordan’s initial claim on the area, which it formally renounced in 1988.
The West Bank, meanwhile, is considered landlocked territory not officially recognized as part of any country. Israel calls the land “disputed.” The Palestinians and the U.N. Security Council claim the West Bank is “occupied” by Israel, which maintains overall control of most of the area while the Palestinian Authority has jurisdiction in about 40 percent. The U.N. Security Council is traditionally considered hostile to Israel.
The West Bank borders most of Israel’s major cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Military strategists long have estimated Israel must maintain most of the West Bank to defend its borders from any ground invasion.
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 the 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.