Netanyahu insists on East Jerusalem building, hope fades for two-state solution
Israeli Prime Minister insisted Thursday on continued settlement building in East Jerusalem. Israeli expansion in the contested city is one reason Palestinians are losing hope in the two-state solution.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted in private talks with US officials over the weekend that his country's settlement building in East Jerusalem will continue, the latest in a string of pronouncements that have driven down Palestinian support for the so-called "two-state" solution, which would involve the emergence of a sovereign Palestine living side by side with Israel.Skip to next paragraph
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US-Israel relations have cooled over Israel's commitment to continued construction, as shown by Mr. Netanyahu's recent a no-frills visit to the White House seen in Israel as intentionally humiliating – and Palestinian leaders are furious. The prospects for restarted peace talks with the Palestinians soon are dim.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly insisted that Jews have a right to build anywhere in East Jerusalem, even in the still largely Palestinian east of the city that Israel seized in 1967 but is not seen as sovereign Israeli territory by the UN or other world governments. He told ABC this week: "The Palestinian demand is that we prevent Jews from building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem. That is an unacceptable demand."
Perhaps so. But Palestinians want East Jerusalem for their future capital, and their negotiators say continued Israeli expansion in the area amounts to creating facts on the ground that will deprive them of what they view as rightfully theirs in any peace settlement. Now, Palestinian opinion is shifting towards support for the so-called "one-state" solution, in which a single country will exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean with a demographic balance that heavily favors their side.
The current crisis was touched off by Israel's March 9 announcement of plans to build 1,600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo, a hilly patch of green that East Jerusalem resident Jamal Amori can see from his minimarket in the neighborhood of Shuafat.
Mr. Amori and other Palestinians – as well as the international community – see the planned homes as part of a steady spread of Israeli settlements in occupied territory. As a result, Ramat Shlomo has become the center of a standoff between Arabs and Jews over Jerusalem’s future – and the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace.