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Jerusalem Settlement Expansion Way Beyond the Current U.S.-Israel Spat

Laura Rozen reports that both the Obama administration and the Netanyahu government are trying to climb down from the past week’s diplomatic acrimony. But the acrimony started when the Israelis announced an expansion of settlements in east Jerusalem, an act that broke faith with the Obama administration during Vice President Biden’s trip to Israel. And Netanyahu shows no indication of reversing the announced expansion of 1,600 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.

Beyond that, the Israeli NGO Peace Now has found vastly greater settlement expansion, despite Netanyahu’s pledged ten-month settlement freeze.

Peace Now found 18 plans to build 7,094 new housing units for Jewish population in East Jerusalem, and another 1,450 hotel rooms, in different stages at the regional committee. There is another plan to build 2,337 housing units, approved for validation and waiting for official publication.

Six of the plans are for building Jewish compounds in the middle of Palestinian neighborhoods; eight plans are for expanding existing Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem and four plans are to build 4,000 housing units at Givat Hamatos – a new neighborhood planned in East Jerusalem.

If Obama can’t get Netanyahu to back down on Ramat Shlomo, what chance does he stand of getting him to back down on the additional thousands of housing units beyond the 1967 borders of Jerusalem? And if Obama can’t manage that, why should the Palestinians and the Arab states trust him to broker a deal that satisfies Palestinian national aspirations for a state on the land that the Israelis are continually settling?

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