Shepherd Hotel in east Jerusalem
Photo: Reuters

PM Netanyahu’s trap

Latest east Jerusalem construction permit highlights prime minister’s problem

The Shepherd Hotel compound in Jerusalem is just a small example of the trap faced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.


For two weeks now, the government has been preoccupied with efforts to mitigate the conflict that erupted in wake of the announcement of Ramat Shlomo construction during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit in Israel. Netanyahu made an effort to convince the Americans that he didn’t know. He begged for a meeting with the president and paid with major diplomatic currency.


What is the probability that under such circumstances, a similar event will take place? Logically speaking, you would think that there would be a zero chance for a repeat. Yet reality is stronger than fiction and logic.


For months now, the US Administration has shown great sensitivity to the Shepherd Hotel compound in east Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The hotel was built on the home of Mufti Sheikh Amin al-Husseini and was purchased by far right billionaire Irving Moskowitz more than 25 years ago.


Moskowitz planned to build a Jewish neighborhood at the site, yet for many long years the Jerusalem City Hall and Israeli government did everything in their power in order to delay construction.


The Left is at fault? 

Several months ago, the US and British governments exerted their influence in order to prevent construction at the site. The Americans even summoned Israel’s ambassador in Washington and demanded explanations. Moskowitz, who planned to redesign the compound and build about 100 housing units realized it won’t be possible and decided to make do with 20 units.


If you enter the Jerusalem City Hall website these days and look into the status of Moskowitz’s construction requests for the compound, you will discover that the obstacles for construction that persisted for dozens of years had been lifted.


When did it happen? That’s right, on Thursday of last week, in the midst of Bibi’s great efforts to appease the US Administration, when a meeting with President Obama was still a craving. Precisely at that time, someone in the Jerusalem City Hall decided to remove the last obstacle to the problematic construction project at the disputed site.


The dominant spin blamed the Left for deliberately provoking a quarrel with the Americans. Oh, come on. The Jerusalem City Hall grants a construction permit, which is published on its website openly, yet the Left is at fault for the news reaching the US?


פרסום ראשון: 03.27.10, 14:40
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