Jerusalem's real estate enterprise continues to make headlines- A day after the controversial government decision to approve the construction of 900 housing units in the neighborhood of Gilo, some 100 residents of the east Jerusalem Nof Zion neighborhood gathered Wednesday for a cornerstone ceremony in honor of the neighborhood's second stage, which will include 105 additional housing units.
The new neighborhood, which was constructed in the heart of the Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, received headlines last month, when the residents brought the Torah into the temporary synagogue. According to the contractors, the third and fourth stages of the neighborhood are already in the works.
Among those who attended the ceremony were MK Danny Danon (Likud), as well as democratic New York State Assembly member Dov Hikind.
Alongside the residents, some 25 Peace Now activists protested the construction of the neighborhood, and called out the chants "The rightist settlers are a danger to Israel" and "Nof Zion will bring disaster".
'Full right to live and raise our children here' (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
"I am relaying a message to President Obama – take your hands off Jerusalem," said MK Danon, adding that "Jerusalem belongs to the Jewish people, and we have the full right to live and raise our children here.
"Twelve years ago (Benjamin) Netanyahu was also prime minister, and (US President Bill) Clinton and (US Secretary of State Madeleine) Albright also said not to build in Jerusalem and in Har Homa, yet look what’s here– a magnificent Jewish neighborhood," said Danon.
Hikind, a member of Obama's Democratic Party, said he believed the US president is wrong to pressure Israel vis-à-vis the settlement construction: "Obama does not understand we are dealing with a Jewish place. Many of his predecessors also wanted and advanced peace, he is the only one stopping it.
"There is no reason why Jews should not live alongside Arabs and sell Glat Kosher food alongside Halal food. This should not pose a problem. The construction here is no impediment to peace," concluded Hikind.
Hagit Ofran, a Peace Now activist who protested during the ceremony, said "The construction in Nof Zion is bad for Israel and is meant to impede the chances for a two state solution.
"Eventually there will be no other choice, and a Palestinian capital will rise in east Jerusalem – al-Quds. Otherwise, we will end up with a multi-national state that is neither Jewish nor democratic. It is obvious the settlers came here today to inflame the American anger," said Ofran.