JERUSALEM – The Obama administration and the European Union are closely monitoring Jewish construction in an eastern section of Jerusalem where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government announced a plan to build 3,400 new homes, a European envoy here told WND.
The European envoy to Israel confirmed a story yesterday on Israel’s Ynetnews.com website reporting this week’s European protest against the construction of new Jerusalem homes was coordinated with the Obama administration, according to an Israeli official.
“The European move is essentially an American move. The Brits asked the Americans how to act,” an unnamed Israeli official with close ties to the U.S. administration told Ynetnews.com.
Israel’s Higher Planning Council of the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration yesterday vowed to go forward with plans to construct the new homes in what is known as the E-1 corridor between Ma’ale Adumim, an eastern Jerusalem suburb, and a neighborhood closer to western Jerusalem called Pisgat Zeev.
The Palestinians seek a state that encompasses undefined areas of eastern Jerusalem. Israeli prime ministers have been adamant that the major Jewish neighborhoods of Ma’ale Adumim, Gilo and Pisgat Zeev will remain within Israeli jurisdiction in any future deal.
Israel’s decision to build the new homes followed last week’s vote at the United Nations General Assembly to upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s status to non-member observer state.
The new housing decision prompted European countries to summon Israel’s ambassadors in protest.
Britain, France, Sweden, Denmark and Spain on Monday all summoned the Israeli ambassadors to their respective countries to express their condemnation of Netanyahu’s decision. On Tuesday, Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Finland and Egypt also filed protests.
The European envoy told WND the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem and European embassies here are closely monitoring any Jewish construction in both eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Last month, WND reported Obama administration diplomats were monitoring Jewish housing construction projects in two Jerusalem neighborhoods, according to informed Israeli officials.
The U.S. consular staff had visited Gilo and Pisgat Zeev, the officials said.
WND first reported in 2009 that the Obama administration had set up an apparatus to closely monitor Jewish construction in Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank to the point of watching Israeli moves house-to-house in certain key neighborhoods, according to Israeli officials.
In March 2009, Obama’s then-Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, oversaw the establishment of an enhanced apparatus based in the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that closely monitors the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, incorporating regular tours of the areas, at times on a daily basis, the officials said.
Previously, under the Bush administration, the consulate kept a general eye on Jewish Jerusalem and West Bank construction, receiving much of its information from nongovernmental organizations.
“Mitchell’s apparatus takes things to a whole new level. They are watching very closely,” said an Israeli official.