Sarah Kreimer is associate director of Ir Amim, an Israeli NGO dedicated to creating a more equitable Jerusalem and reaching an agreed-upon political future for the city (including a progressive Zionist agenda). She visited Meretz USA a few years ago, and our Israel Symposium has often included very informative tours of East Jerusalem, sponsored by Ir Amim. The following is from Kreimer’s op-ed in today’s Haaretz, “East Jerusalem construction scuttling two-state solution“:
“…. Givat Hamatos is the first new Jewish neighborhood to be built over the Green Line in East Jerusalem since Har Homa in 1997. Har Homa, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initiated during his first term as a kind of ‘price tag’ for Israel’s withdrawal from parts of Hebron, has embroiled Israel in international controversy ever since. Is Givat Hamatos Netanyahu’s ‘price tag’ for the Palestinian decision to apply for UN membership?
“What’s clear is that Givat Hamatos is the keystone of a plan that quietly, piece by piece, with no Israeli public debate, is unilaterally sealing the southern border of annexed East Jerusalem with Israeli construction. In the last year, plans for building more than 5,000 homes in this southern area have been approved or advanced − 2,000 to expand Gilo toward Wallajeh and Beit Jala, almost 1,000 to expand Har Homa toward Beit Sahur, and now more than 2,000 units to link Har Homa with Gilo. These plans are presented under many guises − as an answer to the social protest, as an expression of Israel’s right to build in its capital. But never is the Israeli public allowed to see the full picture: that, despite its rhetoric, the Israeli government is working on the ground to scuttle a two-state solution.
“Taken together, these expansion plans in southern East Jerusalem wreak havoc with the one set of principles agreed upon by most Israeli and Palestinian negotiators (including former prime ministers Ehud Olmert and Ehud Barak) − the ‘Clinton Parameters.’ Under these guidelines, Gilo would have been recognized as Israeli − swapped for a commensurate piece of land from within the Green Line − and the rest of the land on Jerusalem’s southern borders would become part of a Palestinian capital. Thus, through this construction, we are … foreclosing on the option of a two-state solution. For, without an agreement on Jerusalem’s borders, there will be no Palestinian-Israeli peace. …”