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E-1 area near Jerusalem
Photo: Reuters
Our right to build
Op-ed: E1 zone, where new housing units will be built, was part of Israel even on Olmert's map

If I were one of the Israeli ambassadors who were summoned for a reprimand by their European host countries I would say: What do you want from me? I wasn't even in the country. But the truth is that we will withstand this minor diplomatic crisis, mainly because the other option is far more dangerous.

 

The State of Israel has all sorts of assets, but the sympathy of the European countries is not among the important ones. It is certainly not as important as another asset we tend to overlook: Our independence.

 

The world's empathy is important when rockets are fired at Israel from the south, but it is more important to take out those who are doing the firing. The same goes for the diplomatic arena: If attacked, we must return fire.

 

There is a certain fact that the European countries have been repressing: The Palestinians have persistently rejected peace. Hillary Clinton mentioned this at the Saban Forum. She said Barak offered Arafat everything. Olmert also spoke of how he offered Abbas everything, including the holy sites in Jerusalem. In both cases the Israeli leaders returned empty handed.

 

Moreover, the Palestinian response to the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza was terror. So the accusation that Israel refuses to negotiate is not only based on a lie, it is also foolish: Every time Israel negotiated it was rejected by the Palestinians.

 

Abbas opted for a unilateral measure – a blatant violation of past agreements. Israel had to respond to this measure; otherwise it would have set a dangerous precedent. The decision to build an additional 3,000 housing units beyond the Green Line is not illogical. Those who feared that the plan calls for the establishment of thousands of new settlements can relax.

 

The E1 zone, where the new housing units will be built, was a part of Israel even on Olmert's map. The government did not approve a new Yitzhar; it approved construction deep within the large settlement blocs.

 

There is a clear consensus in Israel regarding the settlement blocs. There are very few Israelis who believe these blocs will not remain under Israeli sovereignty even if a miracle does happen and a peace agreement is reached. The decision to build in these blocs is first and foremost an Israeli right. The fact that it also punishes the Palestinians is of secondary importance.

 

 

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