New York Assemblyman Dov Hikind and Likud lawmaker Danny Danon speak with the media at the groundbreaking ceremony for an extension of the Nof Tzion neighborhood in Jerusalem (Photo: Heshy Rubinstein)

JERUSALEM – In defiance of President Obama’s demands that Israel cease building in sections of Jerusalem and the West Bank, New York state assemblyman Dov Hikind laid the cornerstone for the second phase of a new Jewish construction project in the Nof Tzion neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem.

Together with Knesset Member Danny Danon, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, Hikind spoke with reporters about the Jewish right to build in Israel’s capital city.

Hikind, a Democrat, asserted banning Jews from building in neighborhoods was segregation. He expressed wonder that an African-American president would endorse such a policy in the 21st century.

Speaking with the media, Hikind blamed Obama for stalling the peace process. According to the assemblyman, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has latched onto Obama’s calls for a settlement freeze as an excuse not to negotiate with Israel.

According to Hikind, a Jew cannot even build a bathroom in Jerusalem without international condemnation.

Israel recently announced the construction of several hundred housing units in Jerusalem’s Gilo neighborhood to the chagrin of the American administration. Danon told WND that Gilo, a neighborhood of 40,000 Jews within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem, is completely within the Israeli consensus, stating that even Tzipi Livni, opposition leader of the Kadima party, was behind the expansion.

Hikind was in Israel leading a solidarity mission of 50 American Jews. During the past week the group met with leaders of Israel’s settlement enterprise and national camp. The purpose of the mission was to strengthen Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank and Jerusalem by acquiring property in the disputed areas. Hikind himself expressed interest in buying an apartment in Nof Tzion.

A representative of the Ateret Kohanim organization, which reclaims Jewish land in Jerusalem, accompanied the group to Nof Tzion, explaining the history of the disputed areas.

The Americans were amazed to learn that such predominantly Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem as Silwan were historically Jewish. Silwan was a Yemenite Jewish community until it was evacuated and turned over to Arabs by the British, following Arab pogroms in the late 1930s.

During the cornerstone laying and subsequent press conference, a small group of demonstrators from the extremist Peace Now organization stood nearby calling for the division of Jerusalem. One demonstrator, a Jew from Britain, held a sign which stated, “Hikind – you’re a shame to your party.”

As Hikind attempted to leave, he was accosted by the demonstrator. The assemblyman gave the young man his telephone number, offering to take him out to dinner to speak about the issues in a less charged setting.

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