By MICHAEL FREUND, JPOST—
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict, much like any clash of civilizations, has a history rife with significant dates and anniversaries, many of which in retrospect proved to be decisive.
From the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement to the 1929 Arab riots on through the 1947 UN Partition Plan, the 1967 Six Day War and the 1993 Oslo Accords, the struggle over the Land of Israel has known many crossroads, each of which has played a part in sketching the reality on the ground.
This week is shaping up to be just such a tipping point.
After years in which a virtual freeze was imposed on Jewish construction in parts of post-1967 Jerusalem, the government has finally de-iced the levers of Israel’s bureaucracy and begun to advance a series of important building projects. Indeed, over the past few days, the Jewish state has taken a number of steps that may prove essential to preserving Jerusalem as the united and eternal capital of the Jewish people.
At a meeting of the District Building and Planning Committee on Monday, a proposal was approved to erect 1,500 apartment units in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Just take a look at the map and you will see why this is so significant. Ramat Shlomo lies between Ramot and French Hill, thereby creating an uninterrupted strip of Jewish neighborhoods to the north of the Old City.
As a result, it will be virtually impossible for Palestiniancontrolled Ramallah and A-Ram to ever link up geographically with the eastern part of the city, which all but puts an end to the illusion that Jerusalem can be neatly divided in two. Straddling the Arab-inhabited neighborhoods of Beit Safafa and Shuafat to its north and east, Ramat Shlomo is akin to a civilian barricade which prevents Palestinian penetration to the west.
According to some reports, construction of the 1,500 apartment units could begin as early as next year, though it will likely take longer. Meanwhile, equally crucial housing plans for the southern part of Jerusalem were also slated to be discussed this week.
One involves Givat Hamatos, which is located east of Beit Safafa, between Gilo and Har Homa. If approved, it will be the first Jewish neighborhood added to Jerusalem since 1997. In addition, there is the Slopes of Gilo South project, which would add another 1,000 housing units to southern Gilo. Like Givat Hamatos, it too is strategically located and will fortify the Jewish presence between Bethlehem to the south and Jerusalem.
Taken together with the recent approval of the E1 project connecting Jerusalem eastwards to Ma’aleh Adumim, the advance of the Ramat Shlomo, Givat Hamatos and Slopes of Gilo construction will further envelop Jerusalem’s outskirts with a solid Jewish majority.
To be sure, much of what happened this week was thoroughly and tediously bureaucratic in nature, and additional hurdles remain before actual construction will commence. But anyone who loves and cherishes Jewish Jerusalem cannot help but be elated by this latest turn of events.
Whether it is the result of electoral considerations or a reaction to recent Palestinian shenanigans at the United Nations General Assembly is beside the point. What matters is the simple fact that Israel is taking steps to create facts on the ground, strengthening the Jewish presence in Jerusalem and driving a much-needed stake through the heart of plots to divide the Holy City.
Not surprisingly, the announcement was quickly followed by an unbecoming outburst on the part of US State Department spokesman Victoria “Vicious Vicky” Nuland, who had the gall to accuse Israel of engaging in a “pattern of provocative action.”
Parroting the same talking points across the pond, British Foreign Secretary William Hague also denounced Israel for what he termed “a serious provocation and an obstacle to peace.”
What Nuland, Hague and various other critics fail to understand is that the jig is up. There are now over 300,000 Jews living in the parts of Jerusalem that were liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War, and that number is set to soar in the years to come. There can be no turning back the clock or hitting the rewind button here, so the world should just accept reality.
Simply put, condemning new Jewish building projects in Jerusalem is like complaining about the result of last week’s football game: it won’t affect the outcome one bit.
As Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rightly put it on Tuesday, “Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the state of Israel and we will continue to build there. A united Jerusalem reflects a wide national consensus.”
So let Nuland and Hague complain all they wish.
Whether the world likes it or not, the demographic realities on the ground have for all intents and purposes created a fait accompli: Jerusalem is now truly indivisible.
And, I might add: thus it shall remain, forever and until the end of time.