JERUSALEM – The Obama administration in recent weeks has stepped up its monitoring of Jewish construction projects in eastern Jerusalem and is protesting to the highest levels of the Israeli government even small building or improvement projects, WND has learned.
Obama is calling for Israel to halt all Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem for four months as a confidence-building gesture to start talks with the Palestinian Authority.
Already, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu placed a freeze on building projects in the strategic West Bank, purportedly as a confidence-building gesture as well.
WND previously reported Obama’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, oversaw the establishment of an enhanced apparatus based in the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem that closely monitors Judea and Samaria – and also known as the West Bank – and eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods, incorporating regular tours of the areas.
According to both Israeli and PA sources, the consulate apparatus has stepped up its monitoring of Jewish housing in eastern Jerusalem. The Israeli sources said the U.S. government is protesting to Netanyahu’s office any sign of Jewish building, such as the sight of a bulldozer in Maale Adumim, an eastern Jerusalem Jewish neighborhood.
Previously, under the Bush administration, the consulate kept a general eye on Jewish Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria construction, receiving much of its information from nongovernmental organizations.
“Mitchell’s apparatus takes things to a whole new level. They are watching very closely,” an Israeli official who is aware of the U.S. government’s construction-monitoring activities previously told WND.
Jewish leaders in Judea and Samaria previously told WND the consulate makes no effort to hide its activities.
“They come out. They tour our communities. They try to interact with our leadership,” David Ha’ivri, spokesmen for the Shomron Regional Council in Judea and Samaria, told WND in August.
“They drive around the towns, check up on what’s going on. They try to mingle with us to get more information on what we’re up to and what we’re doing,” he said.
Yesterday, Ha’ivri told WND he received phone calls from an official in the U.S. consulate asking him about activities as well as Netanyahu’s construction freeze.
Ha’ivri said the consular officials present themselves as advisers to the U.S. consul-general.
“But we know they are really spies for the Obama administration,” he said.
Jerusalem officials affirm the consular staff report to Obama’s envoy, Mitchell.
The stepped up monitoring follows a diplomatic row over a decision by the local municipality here to build 1,600 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, an already existing Jewish community. The Obama administration slammed that decision as an “insult” and impediment to Israeli-Palestinian peace.
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