Obama + company get four more weeks to try for Israeli-Palestinian talks

Arab League Foreign Ministers meeting yesterday [Friday] a day ahead of an Arab summit meeting of heads of state, decided (1) to support Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen] in his resistance to continuing “direct” talks with Israel that restarted, sort of, in September, under the auspices of the Obama administration, and (2) to give the whole thing one more month [that is, until after the American mid-term congressional elections].

The U.S. has welcomed this decision.

In the meantime, Arab League Foreign Ministers [the Follow-up Committee] will meet again in about two weeks to discuss proposals that Abu Mazen is expected to present.

Several reports in the Palestinian media today — now picked up by the international news agencies and the Israeli media — suggest that Abu Mazen + company will suggest either (1) requiring U.S. recognition of a Palestinian State within the borders that existed on the eve of the June 1967 war, or (2) going to the UN Security Council to seek UN membership for such a Palestinian State.

The Jerusalem Post has just published an AFP report saying that “Another option was to demand that the United Nations place the Palestinian territories under an international mandate”… This is posted here.

Meanwhile, a marked construction boom has begun (or resumed) in East Jerusalem [particularly since the end of Ramadan].

Even in downtown East Jerusalem, just off Saleh ed-Dine Street [decidedly unglamorous, but the social and economic equivalent in Palestinian East Jerusalem of the Champs-Elysees in Paris, or Fifth Avenue in New York], a hulk of an unfinished hotel is being fitted with aluminum frames for eventual windows — the first work evident on the depressing site in years. [It was previously said that family inheritance disputes were in some part responsible for the delay.]

In Dahiet al-Bariid –in a peculiar triangle squeezed between the IDF’s Central Command headquarters up the back of the Jewish commurity of Neve Yaakov [settled by Jews prior to the 1948 creation of the State of Israel], and The Wall built by Israel that cut right up through the middle of Ahmad Orabi Street and between houses belonging to the same family that finally sealed off direct access to the West Bank in September 2008 — there is now unrestrained and frenetic construction, disregardless of the lack of space and access.

The Palestinian money here is betting on a big change.

But, there is no control or supervision over what is happening now.

It is not entirely clear, but building permits may still apparently be issued yby the Ar-Ram municipal council, which is now completely closed off from this area by The Wall. Demolition orders — for several huge apartment blocs with no safe egress in case of emergency which were built to nine-stories high, though the permits were for four stories — are apparently being decided, with great delay and reluctance, by the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration offices and courts in Beit El, just beside Ramallah + Al-Bireh.

Residents of this particular part of Dahiet al-Bariid [including a number of Christian institutions] petitioned Israel’s Supreme Court to be left on the Jerusalem side of The Wall, arguing that the center of their lives was in Jerusalem [and not in ar-Ram, or Ramallah]. Israel’s Supreme Court agreed, and the IDF eventually changed the route of The Wall. But, on the day that the miserable Ar-Ram checkpoint was removed in February 2009, quite a while after The Wall was closed in the area, the then-commander of Qalandia Checkpoint told this journalist that the status of the neighborhood was yet to be determined.

The Israeli Supreme Court is, meantime, now treating residents of this area as residents of Jerusalem.

It was not yet fully Jerusalem, he said, despite the Supreme Court petition — rather, he stated, it is a “seam zone” (“Kef Ha-Teva” in Hebrew, or “Manteqat Tamas” in Arabic) whose status would ultimately be decided by “the negotiators”…

That could take quite a while — or, it could happen in the next four weeks.

The week before the Berlin Wall came down, nobody suspected that would ever happen…

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