Atias. 'All governments did the same'
Photo: Noam Moskowitz
Pisgat Ze'ev. New building plan
Government ministers on Saturday appeared unfazed by the global condemnation of an Israeli decision to approve building plans for 240 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Givat Ze'ev and Ramot, located beyond the Green Line.
"The issued statements of condemnation were not serious," said a senior minister. "What counts is what the Americans say. Those who remember what happened with Joe Biden understand that what they said was not a condemnation. All they are saying is that they're disappointed. The Olmert government sometimes faced condemnations which were much more serious."
Housing and Construction Minister Ariel Atias told Ynet on Saturday evening that "all governments built in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods, both the right-wing and the left-wing ones, including the previous government which negotiated with Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas). Jerusalem is Israel's capital. As far as the Palestinians are concerned, no timing is right."
Atias clarified that the United States had been informed in advance about the plan to issue the east Jerusalem bids. According to the Shas minister, "We have a lot of respect for the American administration. The number of bids issued conveys the message that we are not looking to halt the process. We must remember that bids have not been issued in Jerusalem for 10 months, although Jerusalem was not included in the freeze."
The housing minister said the Palestinian president was not interested in advancing the peace process. "Abu Mazen is hanging on to straw in order not to return to the talks," Atias stated. "The negotiations are in the interest of both sides. In the meantime, the only one taking steps and not causing difficulties is Israel.
"It's clear to everyone that the places in Jerusalem's Jewish neighborhoods will remain, under any future agreement, in Israel's hands. The Palestinians know it too. We must not get the Palestinians and the world used to having Jerusalem under a freeze, even in a passive acceptance. This is Israel's capital and a matter of consensus to the Israeli public."
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister's Office said Saturday evening that Benjamin Netanyahu's meeting with Abbas, which was scheduled to take place in Paris on October 21, has been canceled following consultations.
European leaders are now trying to organize a summit between the Israeli and Palestinian leaders at the end of next month in Barcelona.
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