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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Israel LAND GRAB inside story

ice map

Obama "dismay" not "condemn" .. Israel can live with that.

The inside story:

Brothers seek to develop Jerusalem-Bethlehem land
Daniel Cohen: They're trying to force us into a political game that doesn’t interest us at all.
Chen Shalita12 Nov 09 17:32
"Globes" reveals the next real estate development that could ignite the region. Two little-known businessmen, brothers Benjamin and Daniel Cohen, have, over the past 26 years, bought thousands of acres of land along the border of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. In a few months, they will file a building plan for the area known, as Givat Yael, to the Jerusalem Regional Planning and Building Commission. Construction in this area means expanding the borders of greater Jerusalem.
Daniel Cohen is a member of the Hapoel Jerusalem Football Club management committee and a jeweler. He decided to disclose the plan to "Globes", for the first time, partly in order to divert attention from his man in the field, Meir Davidson, a former activist in Ateret Cohanim, the non-profit organization that buys up properties in East Jerusalem. Cohen said that the land was bought using money from a family inheritance. "There is no money from the NPO involved, nor from any tycoon with a political interest," he said.

The Cohens are collaborating with Kim Lustigman Development and Building Ltd., which is a strategic partner in the project to build 12,000 housing units on the hill. Part of the area is in the jurisdiction of the Jerusalem Municipality, and part is in Judea and Samaria. Daniel Cohen considers the land purchased as the last remaining land reserves for construction in Jerusalem in the aftermath of the collapse of the Safdie plan for western Jerusalem. He believes that he will be able to get the land rezoned from its current designation as open space.
"We believe that 20,000 housing units will be needed in Jerusalem over the next ten years," says Cohen. "I'm not a megalomaniac, I don’t imagine that we'll build everything. We'll get 1,000 housing units approved initially, and then we'll see. This is a modular plan. We're not now working on the area in Judea and Samaria."
The developers do not deny that the project is supported by the Ministry of Interior and the Jerusalem Municipality, which are working behind the scenes to get the project approved. Cohen declines to comment on the political ramifications of building in the area. "They're trying to force us into a political game that doesn’t interest us at all," he says.
"I'm purely a businessman, and I'm not ashamed to say that what interests me is to make a profit on the money here. For 26 years, my brother and I have been eating dirt here, and I'll be happy if this finally turns us into wealthy men."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news

“… who is in charge of the language here?”
By Paul Woodward, War in Context, November 18, 2009

fter Israeli officials flatly refused a US request to block the approval for the construction of 900 new housing units in occupied East Jerusalem, the Obama administration “lashed out” (CBS) with “anger” (New York Times) and “sharply criticized” (Wall Street Journal) Israel’s decision.

The White House unleashed a shocking display of… “dismay.”

We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem.

Thankfully, AP’s Matt Lee wasn’t as obliging as some of his colleagues in their efforts to pump vigor into a pathetic statement.

Challenging State Department spokesman Ian Kelly, Lee asked:

You can’t come up with anything stronger than “dismaying”? I mean, this flies in the face of everything you’ve been talking about for months and months and months.

Kelly: It’s dismaying.

Lee: Yeah, you can’t offer a condemnation of it or anything like that? (Laughter.) I mean, who is in charge of the language here?

On the other side of the Atlantic, Britain’s Foreign Office was a tad more forthright if not quite fiery: “this decision is wrong and we oppose it.”

That kind of language is apparently too strong for this White House. In fact, having originally put out a statement referring to planned “Settlement Expansion in Jerusalem”, the mamby pamdys in charge of language in the most powerful executive office in the world decided to retract “settlement expansion” and simply titled it a statement “on Jerusalem”.

So, the Obama administration is “dismayed” by Israel’s behavior.

It may well be that the word was chosen with exquisite care. It’s etymology is all too appropriate:

Middle English dismaien, from Anglo-Norman *desmaiier : probably de-, intensive pref.; see de- + Old French esmaier, to frighten (from Vulgar Latin *exmagāre, to deprive of power : Latin ex-, ex- + Germanic *magan, to be able to).

The White House could have said:

Prime Minister Netanyahu. You have exposed our impotence. Alas, we have no power.

Should anyone be dismayed at the White House’s language?

Only if you’ve been ignoring the news for the last few months and still imagine that Obama’s speech in Cairo was genuinely a highlight of his presidency.

A spokeswoman for UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said: “This decision will undermine efforts for peace and cast doubt on the viability of the two-state solution."

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