Map: Israel’s Housing Ministry announces new settlement tenders
The Housing Ministry announced Friday morning new tenders for 1,400 housing units in settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
The announcement was made three weeks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he intends to launch a new wave of settlement construction parallel to the third step of Palestinian prisoner release.
Tenders were released for the construction of 600 housing units in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood in Jerusalem, which lies over the Green Line, and a further 801 units in settlement blocs in the West Bank.
Israel will build 227 housing units in Efrat, 78 in Alfei Menashe, 86 in Karnei Shomron, 40 in Ariel, 75 in Adam, 24 in Beitar Illit, 102 in Immanuel and 169 in Elkana.
In addition, tenders were released for the construction of 532 units in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, across the Green Line. The plots for these units were marketed in the past but found no buyers, and were now put back out on the market. These include 182 units in Pisgat Ze’ev, 294 in Ramot and 56 in Neve Yaakov.
Poll: Israelis Believe US Committed to Israeli Security, Netanyahu Can Withstand American Pressure
62 percent of Israelis believe the US is committed to reaching a final status agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. [@IDIisrael]— Liam Hoare (@lahoare)
— Liam Hoare (@lahoare)
55 percent of Jewish Israelis believe that it is impossible at present to build trust between Israelis and Palestinians. [@IDIisrael]— Liam Hoare (@lahoare)
The brotherhood is over but Lapid’s damage is done
When Yair Lapid woke up the morning after winning 19 seats in the 19th Knesset and decided the best thing he could do was drag Yesh Atid into a fraternal alliance with Habayit Hayehudi, he immediately consigned the next government to discord and dysfunctionality. When he hitched his broad, secular and centrist party – heir to Kadima, Shinui, and Dash – to a right-wing, national-religious faction representing the interests a few thousand fanatics living in isolated mitzpim in Samaria, Lapid with one move betrayed the very people who voted for him.
Lapid was terrifically naïve during coalition negotiations, stupid even. He wasted political capital he could have used to better shape the government on trifling matters like the number of ministerial posts. He allowed Habayit Hayehudi to carry over into the coalition agreement a clause demanding consensus from all parties on matters pertaining to religion and state – something the ultra-Orthodox factions had previously demanded. He acquiesced to their control of the Housing Ministry and the Ministry of Religious Services.
Only now is Lapid witnessing the sour fruits of his winter sowing. A Housing Minister (extreme even within Habayit Hayehudi) gone rogue, announcing tenders for thousands of new settlement units in the middle of negotiations, in so doing almost destroying the peace process. Yesh Atid’s liberal legislation on LGBT rights – employment rights, tax benefits, surrogacy access – stymied in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation. The status of the universal draft up in the air. Nothing accomplished on civil unions, housing, and other issues of immediate concern to Lapid’s constituency.
But that’s not even the half of it. The Lapid-Bennett alliance, after all, turned out not to be much of an alliance in the end. It was merely a marriage of convenience established to get its leaders ministerial seats and propagate the myth of the ‘new politics’. But in supporting Bennett’s entry into government, Lapid has allowed a genuine ideological axis between Habayit Hayehudi and Yisrael Beitienu to form, one that is proving and will prove destructive.
Sheldon Adelson doesn’t know much about the Middle East
From The Forward, Josh Nathan-Kazis’ report on “Will Jews Exist?”, a forum at which Sheldon Adelson spewed forth on a variety of subjects. Of Adelson’s opinions, better read to be believed, I think:
- On the Palestinians: “If they truly want peace, it’s very simple to say to all their henchman, lay off the terrorism for five years.”
- Whether Netanyahu will bomb Iran without U.S. permission: “[Former Israeli prime minister Ehud] Olmert is a political person. His wind blows in the direction of the polls. [Netanyahu] is not a political person. [His] wind blows in the direction of his ideology, and his deep and unwavering support and love for the Jewish people and the state of Israel. I am absolutely convinced that Bibi says what he means, means what he says, and if he says that Iran is an existential threat, he would not live…without taking some kind of action.”
- A preemptive U.S. nuclear strike on unpopulated areas of Iran as a negotiating tactic: “Then you say, ‘See! The next one is in the middle of Tehran. So, we mean business.’”
- Muslims: “I don’t know the difference between the Shia and the Sunnis.”
- More on the Palestinians: “There’s no such thing as a Palestinian. Do you know what they are? They call themselves southern Syrians.”
- His opposition to a two-state solution: “To go and allow a Palestinian state is to play Russian roulette.”
If Netanyahu believed in peace, he’d leave the Likud
Depending on when you read this, is it possible that the disembowelling of the Likud by the most fanatical and idiotic of annexationists will have been completed.
The process has been short and swift. Prior to the last election, Likud primary voters selected a party list lousy with reactionary, myopic territorial maximalists: Ze’ev Elkin; Yariv Levin; Tzipi Hotovely; Miri Regev; Moshe Feiglin; and Ofir Akunis. In so doing, Likud voters pushed out a number of Revisionist Zionists who were considered to be too mushy, due in part to their respect of the most basic precepts of domestic and international law and norms: Michael Eitan; Dan Meridor; and Benny Begin.
Chief among those to benefit from the primaries was Danny Danon, a cheap and shallow charlatan and shameless self-promoter whose very name ought to make one’s skin come alive in irritation. Twenty-fourth on the Likud list in 2009, Danon shot up to fifth place in 2013, thus securing ninth place on the joint Likud Beiteinu list and the right after the election to demand for himself a cosy cabinet position.
All this is remarkable considering Danon is an astonishingly vapid and incurious man with no notable legislative or intellectual accomplishments who somehow became a deputy speaker in the last Knesset and Deputy Defence Minister in this one. Indeed, considering his main political proposal consists of annexing most if not all of the West Bank, never mind the Palestinians who live there, one might say his very existence is an anti-intellectual endeavour, or at least one not grounded in the real or substantial.
Danon’s principal interest, in fact, when not propagating land theft or attempting to suppress and denigrate Israel’s minorities is augmenting his international media profile and personal brand, doing whatever is necessary to grab five more minutes of airtime. This unappetising combination of self-aggrandisement and philosophical emptiness was best demonstrated when he considered inviting Glenn Beck – a man who has at the very least flirted with anti-Semitism in his criticism of George Soros – to address the Knesset Immigration, Absorption, and Diaspora Affairs Committee, about which he knows nothing at all. Only a shameless dope would consider this to be a tasteful or desirable thing to do.
The beginning of the end of the Yugoslav Wars
Initialled on Friday afternoon and approved by both parliaments on Monday morning, the concord between Serbia and Kosovo seems to have so swiftly altered the status quo in the Balkans that it has been presumptuously labelled historic, well before the first condition of that deal has even been implemented.
Brokered by Baroness Ashton and the European External Action Service, the agreement between Serbia and Kosovo is undoubtedly of tremendous significance, since it provides a pathway to the normalisation of relations between two states that have been in a state of antagonism since the disintegration of Yugoslavia in 1991. Under its terms, Kosovo’s sovereignty will for the first time extend to “every corner of its territory”, as their Prime Minister Hasham Thaçi termed it, with Serbia and Kosovo’s Serb minority recognising the authority of the government in Prishtina over the Serb-majority provinces.
As such, Serbia has agreed to dismantle the parallel institutions it has established in Kosovo which presently control local security, healthcare, education, and the judiciary in the places north of Mitrovica. In return, a new Association of Serb Municipalities will be established, afforded broad powers over local affairs. In particular, the Kosovan government has committed to changing the ethnic composition of the police force and the judiciary to better reflect the balance between the Albanian majority and the Serb minority.
It is not yet guaranteed that this pact will hold, of course, nor the terms implemented. The proposal to dismantle Serbian institutions and accept Prishtina’s sovereignty over Serb areas might still face staunch opposition on the ground in Serbian Kosovo itself, where nationalist sentiment is strong and the tricolour Serb flag flown. But, while it cannot be deemed historic now, this agreement between Kosovo and Serbia does have the potential to be historic. It has the potential to reshape the entire region, and finally bring to a conclusion the bloody ethnic and nationalistic Yugoslav Wars.