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Ambassador Oren: Court Would Back Jews Building in Yesha

Michael Oren, Israeli envoy to the US, says the government cannot legally halt Jews from building in existing Yesha communities.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 6/17/2009, 11:42 AM

Flash 90

Michael Oren, Israel’s new ambassador to the United States, told the Reuters news agency Wednesday that Israel cannot legally halt building by Jews in existing communities in Judea and Samaria. He stated, "This is a country of law, and citizens of the State of Israel have rights under that law. If a person has purchased a house, if a person has taken out a contract for building a house, if a corporation is involved in a construction activity, the Israeli government does not have a right under Israeli law to stop them."

The ambassador added, “My guess is, the Supreme Court will view in favor of those appellants” if they were to challenge the government. Oren is a former analyst at a conservative think tank but recently has made statements in favor of Israel’s surrendering most of Judea and Samaria.

He also told Reuters that the question of construction in Judea and Samaria can be put aside in favor of “more substantive” core issues,” which usually refers to the status of Jerusalem and the Arab demand that Israel allow millions of foreign Arabs to immigrate to the Jewish State.

However, Oren stood by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statements that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel while adding, "The core issue would be, for example, the borders between us and the Palestinians.”

Semantics and interpretations of "undivided” may provide room for a compromise, whereby Israel might cede Arab villages in the eastern part of the city without breaking up Jewish neighborhoods.

Oren also said Israel is bringing up the issue of compensation for Jewish refugees from Arab countries, a problem that was largely ignored by previous governments. "The refugee issue, both the Palestinian refugee issue, as well as the Jewish refugee issue -- the Jews who were forced out of Arab lands -- those are core issues," he said.

He declined to state a timetable for renewed talks with the Palestinian Authority, but he told Voice of Israel government radio there has been “advancement” in discussions with the U.S. in the past several days. Oren said that “creative” proposals from both the Obama and Netanyahu governments are narrowing the differences.

President Barack Obama has demanded that Israel halt all building in Judea and Samaria, and a retreat from that position is liable to further anger the Arab world, which already has castigated Prime Minister Netanyahu for his speech four days ago. The Prime Minister said he could accept a new PA state but that it must demilitarized and that Israel must be recognized as a Jewish State with Jerusalem as its undivided capital.