Washington, DC - Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization, Peace Now, in condemning two recent moves by the Israeli government in East Jerusalem that could severely complicate efforts to reach a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee called the moves "provocative and irresponsible."
Over the weekend, flyers were placed at the Mount of Olives in East Jerusalem - a place holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity - announcing that a plan has been posted to build Israel's military college on the Mount of Olives, in a neighborhood inhabited by Palestinians. The plan has been announced in the past, but this current development propels the plan toward execution. Opponents of the plan are granted sixty days to file objections before a panel discusses the objections. Soon thereafter, the panel typically gives a green light for construction. The college, a massive complex of 447,000 square feet (8 levels, built on the ridge) will serve to train commanders from the IDF and other security forces.
Last Thursday, Israel's government published a plan to expand the East Jerusalem settlement of Gilo, near Bethlehem, further south toward the neighboring Palestinian villages of Beit Jala and Walajeh. If carried out, the "Mordot Gilo" plan for some 800 housing units, threatens to further complicate efforts of Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to find a way to secure the necessary north-south contiguity for a future viable Palestinian state.
Hagit Ofran, the Secretary General of Israel's Peace Now movement said: "In many ways, Jerusalem is the heart of our conflict. Any change or construction in East Jerusalem intensifies the conflict and makes it harder to resolve it. Anybody who cares about Jerusalem must strive to resolve the conflict peacefully, and not create more obstacles to future Israeli-Palestinian peace."
APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "Any timing is poor for such provocative plans in East Jerusalem. It is particularly provocative and irresponsible to advance such plans when Israel and the United States are facing elections. Israel's government should not use this time to pander to its right-wing extremists by opening the floodgates for wholesale settlement construction."For more on the Mount of Olives plan: http://settlementwatcheastjerusalem.wordpress.com/2012/10/20/idf-academy/
For more on the plan to expand Gilo: http://settlementwatcheastjerusalem.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/gilo-slope/