TEL AVIV – Not a single Jewish home will be built in the strategic West Bank without approval of the Obama administration and the Palestinians, Nimer Hamad, senior political adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told WND.
In spite of recent reports Israel will build 50 new homes in a northern West Bank Jewish community, Hamad said U.S. guarantees make him "confident" such housing will not actually be constructed.
"The guarantees we received from the U.S. make us confident all the talks about the 50 houses in Adam are only a piece of meat (Defense Minister Ehud) Barak threw to the settlers," Hamad said.
"I am not excited about these reports. I am confident no single housing will actually be built outside an agreement between the Palestinians, the Americans and the Israelis," he said.
Barak's Defense Ministry approved the construction of 50 new homes in Adam, an existing West Bank community, as part of a wider plan to absorb residents slated to be evicted from an area called Migron.
Migron is considered an illegal outpost since it wasn't constructed with Israeli government approval. The U.S. has demanded all illegal outposts be removed.
The new houses in Adam would defy a demand by the Obama administration that Israel halt all settlement activity, including natural growth, in apparent abrogation of a deal made by President Bush in 2004.
Barak was in New York yesterday to meet with U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell in an effort to agree on a compromise formula on settlement construction.
Sources in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office told WND that Barak favors a "temporary freeze" of Jewish communities and a declaration that the issue be resolved in talks with the PA.
Top ministers in Netanyahu's cabinet, such as Vice Premier Moshe Yaalon, the strategic affairs coordinator, oppose a settlement freeze, fearing it will become permanent, according to sources close to Yaalon.
Obama tells Jews to stop building in Jerusalem
Earlier this week, WND quoted a top PA negotiator stating the Obama administration told the Palestinians the "golden era" of Israeli construction in sections of Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank will soon come to an end.
"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.
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 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.