Israeli Jerusalem Defiance Again

I’d like to expand a bit on the article from Le Monde that I linked to in one of my tweets today. I’d also like to try out the new facility Twitter has made available to embed tweets, thusly:

LeMonde: Can’t hold it back 4 long: #Israel Vice PM announces new arrangemnts 4 more housing constructn in E #Jerusalem than a minute ago via web

Oooooh, looks pretty good! (Feel free to write me to ask how to do it!)

Anyway, the immediate point of that piece is contained in its title: Israeli government announces that it wants to relaunch construction in East Jerusalem. The Netanyahu government had previously conceded a brief suspension of such construction, but only as a sort of fig-leaf measure in response to heavy pressure it was getting from the US – because, of course, any such construction in East Jerusalem, territory conquered in battle that the rest of the world will not concede is owned by Israel in any way, sounds the death-knell for what are supposed to be peace negotiations with Palestinian representatives.

Well, there’s no more need for any of that, or at least that seems to be the calculation of the Israeli cabinet. The main protagonist here according to the Le Monde piece is Interior Minister Elie Yishai, leader of the Shas party – that’s the ultra-Orthodox party, governing in coalition with Netanyahu’s party and some others, which advocates “Greater Israel.” So no surprise there. What is surprising, though, are some of the official statements accompanying this announcement, at least for those unacquainted with the time-honored Yiddish concept of chutzpah. Here’s Yishai:

I intend to convene as rapidly as possible the commission for planning and construction in Jerusalem to relaunch construction at Ramat Shlomo [an East Jerusalem neighborhood, mostly inhabited by Orthodox Jews]. But this time the discussions will not take place during visits to Israel by American officials.

Here Yishai is clearly referring to the visit to Israel at the beginning of March by US Vice President Joseph Biden, which was what caused all that annoying trouble about this construction work and the Israeli government’s decision to briefly suspend it, and all the rest. See what I’m saying about chutzpah? Who does Biden think he is?

Yishai went on:

The Israeli government has never yielded and will never yield in the face of the United States and will continue to construct everywhere in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people for eternity.

Okaaay . . . Uh, hello? Are there any grownups there? Anyone?

Looks like there’s nobody. The best supplementary statement to this that Le Monde’s/AFP’s reporters were able to get was from Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon of the Yisrael Beitenu party, also in coalition with Netanyahu and also rather hard-line: what Yishai said in fact is “the official position of the government: no one can stop construction in Jerusalem.”

There you go, Barack Obama and Mahmoud Abbas. I know you gentlemen have a lot on your plates these days – particularly you, Mr. President – but what are you going to do about this?

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