Blocking Mideast Peace
in Arab Neighborhood Will Begin Soon, Developer Says
|by Naomi Segal
Originally published 13 January 1999
in JTA Online
JERUSALEM, Jan. 13 (JTA) -- Construction will soon begin
at a controversial Jewish housing project in eastern Jerusalem, according
to the Miami millionaire funding the development.
major supporter of Jewish settlement in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank,
Dr. Irving Moskowitz also said he does not believe that Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu will intervene to halt construction.
Attempts by Moskowitz
and his supporters to build Jewish homes in Jerusalem's mostly Arab neighborhood
of Ras al-Amud have been a repeated source of strain between Israel and the
Israeli construction plans for another contested
site -- Har Homa in southeastern Jerusalem -- led the Palestinian Authority
in March 1997 to halt negotiations with Israel. A subsequent Hamas terrorist
attack further soured the atmosphere, and the talks were ultimately suspended
for 18 months.
Moskowitz financed the excavation of a new entrance
to an archaeological tunnel in Jerusalem's Old City. The opening of that
entrance in September 1996 sparked three days of Palestinian rioting in which
15 Israelis and 61 Palestinians were killed.
During a tour Wednesday
of the site where he plans to build 132 housing units, Moskowitz said he
discussed the project during a meeting this week with Netanyahu.
have the permits to build, and he understands it. And he understands that
the rule of law will determine the development -- and that the rule of law
applies to this property," Moskowitz told reporters.
Netanyahu will let the project go ahead, Moskowitz replied, ``That's my understanding, very clearly."
Netanyahu halted the project in September 1997, in the face of pressure from the United States.
faced with an upcoming election in which he needs the support of the right
wing, Netanyahu may now be rethinking his position.
made his fortune owning hospitals and running a California bingo hall, came
to Israel this week with a delegation of American Jewish businessmen in a
bid to get Israel's fractious right wing to unify in advance of the elections.
addition to Netanyahu, Moskowitz met with Knesset members Uzi Landau and
Ze'ev ``Benny'' Begin, who have mounted challenges to Netanyahu.
Moskowitz did not state this week whether he intends to give financial backing to any prime ministerial candidate.
his meeting with Netanyahu, Moskowitz reportedly protested the concessions
Israel made to the Palestinian Authority in the Wye agreement signed last
October. Netanyahu responded that it was the only way to avoid even greater
Moskowitz's status as a champion of Jewish settlements
was affirmed when he visited Hebron on Wednesday. Children danced while settlers
sang nationalist songs to welcome Moskowitz to the often volatile West Bank
During his visit, some of the settlers asked Moskowitz to help
pay for renovations at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the traditional burial
site of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs.
2003 design by elbop for the Coalition for Justice in Hawaiian Gardens and Jerusalem