Blizzard of demolition orders + Wall activity in Jerusalem

A house in Beit Hanina (East Jerusalem) is to be demolished today (or in ten days — conflicting reports), displacing or leaving 160 people without homes.

A group of Palestinian-run shops just inside the Damascus gate of the Old City of East Jerusalem were given three days notice last Wednesday of their impending demolition. At the end of Ramadan (in late September), the outdoor displays that these shops have maintained were rather roughly messed up, and the shop owners were ordered to stop putting their wares in the narrow Old City alleys/streets. This is rather near the Old City house with a dominant position in the area purchased by Israel’s former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (who has been incapacitated in a nursing home for several years), from which a large Israeli flag flies… The spokesman for the Jerusalem mayor and municipality reportedly confirmed that the demolition orders for these shops were handed down by an Israeli court.

The Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barakat, is apparently serious about his threat to demolish some 200 Palestinian homes in Silwan (many or all of which were built without permits — probably because many of them were built before Israel captured the area in the 1967 war). Barakat has threatened to do this because the government insists he execute a court demolition order against an illegally-built seven-story building housing Jewish settler families in the midst of Silwan.

The Israeli military has announced its intention to resume construction of The Wall between the newish settlement of Har Gilo and the ethereally-beautiful Walajee, north-west of Bethlehem.

And, because one Wall is not enough, Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said in remarks at the start of his weekly Cabinet meeting today that “we will also hold a preliminary discussion on the establishment of a barrier along the Israel-Egyptian border. Israel is the only country in the advanced world that may be reached on foot from Africa … Our decisions in the suggested framework are not designed to deny the right of war refugees’ entrance to into the State of Israel. This issue is not on the agenda and this right will be maintained. However, we will discuss the possibility of building a fence and technological obstacles along the border for several hundred kilometers. In the end, the plan, which we will decide upon at a further meeting, will be spread over several years. The work itself will begin this year” …

Jerusalem Day 2008 – in Jerusalem – cont'd

The Associated Press is reporting today that, in their meeting in Jerusalem yesterday, on Jerusalem Day 2008, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that “Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem will stay in Israel’s hands” under any final peace deal”, according to Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev”.

That means, of course, the Jewish settlements built on areas captured in the June 1967 war — that were in the WEST BANK, but which Israel soon proclaimed to be part of “Greater” Jerusalem — a subtle point often missed by those who may be unfamiliar with the geography…

These guys are too much

Journalists from the Jerusalem Post actually expected Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain to know exactly where and in what areas East Jerusalem and the West Bank overlap (in the Palestinian view, which is shared by many UN member states).

At least McCain was honest enough to admit he did not know: “On some matters of detail – such as whether he distinguished between Israeli building in east Jerusalem and in the settlements – McCain paused, cast a ‘help me out here’ glance in (Senator Joe) Lieberman’s direction, and then – very straightforwardly – said he ‘really didn’t have a good response to that question’.”

israeli journalists also expected U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice to be able to pronounce on the exact status of Gilo, or Har Homa.

She just got irritated and huffy, and impatiently brushed off the question.

They can’t believe that important figures, who are taking positions that would affect their destiny, would not know exactly everything about every single area in and around “Greater Jerusalem”.

Around the time of the Annapolis Conference, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and some of his senior colleagues explained that — for them — anything that is part of the “Greater Jerusalem” that they unilaterally declared after their victory in the June 1967 war is not covered by the Roadmap obligations against settlement expansion.

BTW, McCain also said: “I also understand that there are some isolated settlements that will also be closed down. That’s a tough decision for the [Israeli] government. I’ve seen the film when they go in and remove people from settlements, and it is a democracy. My job is not to make a decision as to whether the settlements should be expanded or not, but rather my job, I think, is to try to create conditions that would lead to negotiations and a settlement grounded on the belief that it is not just [about] my commitment to the state of Israel. If Hamas/Hizbullah succeeds here, they are going to succeed everywhere, not only in the Middle East, but everywhere, and Israel is not the only enemy. They are dedicated to the extinction of everything that the US, Israel and the West believes and stands for. So America does have an interest in what happens here, far above and beyond our alliance with the state of Israel”…

Here is a fuller excerpt from the JPOST interview:

“Question: Do you see a distinction between Israel building in new neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, and building in the settlements?

McCain [Long pause]: I really don’t have a good response to that question. I really think that we should understand that the US and Israel are partners. Israel is not a client of the United States of America, they don’t do our bidding, they have a freely elected government, and that government functions sometimes haltingly; so does ours, by the way. In case you haven’t noticed, we haven’t passed a budget yet, and the Iraqis have! Some people say, too often, ‘We should tell the Israelis what to do’. But we are partners. And if you are true partners, then you don’t dictate what you think the terms of the survival of a nation should be. Doesn’t saying something like that, which is very forthright and will be very welcome in Israel, complicate your potential of being accepted as an honest partner for the Palestinians? I hope not, because I would be more than happy to treat Fatah as a partner as well, if they were committed to a process that resulted in peace. We all agree there [needs to be] a two-state solution. If there were a two-state solution and peace – which has far-reaching effects not only in the Middle East, but in the entire world – then I would be eager to have the United States and a Palestinian state as partners. But a little straight talk: we do have a unique relationship [with Israel]. We have a unique relationship with the British; that doesn’t mean we can’t be partners with the French or anybody else. We have a unique relationship between the United States and Israel, but that doesn’t mean we would discriminate against a Palestinian state if it were created, and Israel and the US are committed long-term to a two-state solution”.

The full McCain interview in the JPost can be seen here .