The Obama administration has reportedly reached an "understanding" with the PA that Jewish construction will continue to be frozen - even in areas of Jerusalem restored to Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.
According to a report published Wednesday by WorldNetDaily, White House officials also said they would pressure Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu into extending the 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, currently due to end in September.
A “top PA leader,” quoted but unnamed in the report, told WND in a phone interview that although no guarantees were given, “we reached an understanding with the Americans” that the construction freeze would be continued, and that no further building projects in Jerusalem would be approved. The source reportedly bragged that although the prime minister has publicly refused to freeze Jewish construction in Jerusalem, there have been almost no new building projects in the eastern section of the capital for more than a month.
Netanyahu Rejects Demands
Other sources say that Netanyahu has once again rejected demands by U.S. President Barack Obama to stop building in most of the city. A report published Thursday in the Wall Street Journal said that Israel instead had agreed to carry out more "good will gestures" to the PA, such as releasing convicted terrorists and smugglers, and further easing the passage of goods between pre-1967 Israeli areas and PA-controlled territory.
According to the report, Israel has also agreed to discuss the expansion of responsibilities for PA security officials, as well as negotiate the future of Jerusalem in permanent status talks. However, Netanyahu said Israel will continue to build in all parts of the capital, as previous governments have, WSJ reported.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Jerusalem Planning Council met to approve five Arab-sector housing projects, as well as the construction of a synagogue and other public buildings in the Jewish neighborhood of Gilo.
Located in southeastern Jerusalem, Gilo is once again being dubbed by PA officials and some international elements as a “settlement” – despite the fact that the neighborhood, home to some 40,000 people, is an integral part of Israel's sovereign capital and has existed for decades. Although Washington has paid little attention to the Arab housing expansion projects in Jerusalem, the Obama administration is closely scrutinizing – and criticizing – any plan that involves Jewish construction in Israel's capital city.