Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s policies are causing Jews to leave Jerusalem while the Arab population grows, says former Deputy Mayor Chaim Miller.
According to Miller, Netanyahu’s government has quietly given in to American demands that Israel avoid building new homes in areas claimed by the Palestinian Authority, including neighborhoods of the capital.
“On the surface of things, it’s just a few confidence-building measures: transferring tax funds collected by Israel to be used for projects in Area C [parts of Judea and Samaria under Israeli administration – ed.]. But there is another step, perhaps the most significant, that they don’t really tell you about, that the government of Israel finds it hard to put on the table and take pride in: the quiet, unofficial construction freeze outside the settlement blocs, as part of an understanding between Israel and America,” Miller said.
One of the neighborhoods suffering as a consequence is Ramat Shlomo, he said. The U.S. has condemned attempts to build new homes for Jewish Israelis in Ramat Shlomo, a primarily Jewish neighborhood with 20,000 residents. The area was empty hills prior to the reunification of Jerusalem in 1967.
The international community has condemned attempts to build new homes in parts of eastern and northern Jerusalem that were under Jordanian control between 1949 and 1967. Israel views those parts of the city as neighborhoods of the capital like any other, but the Arab world claims Jerusalem as the capital of a new Arab state and has termed Israeli residents “settlers.”
“The Prime Minister’s involvement in opposing [the construction of] new apartments in the city is worthy of condemnation,” said Miller, who heads the Movement for Jerusalem and its Residents (Hatnua L’Yerushalayim V’Toshvea).
The lack of construction has a serious demographic impact on the city, he said. Israelis find themselves unable to afford housing and leave the city, or simply do not move there in the first place. Meanwhile, he said, Arabs continue to build homes freely, and the Arab population continues to grow, creating a "demographic time bomb."
Miller said his movement plans to set up a protest tent as part of a larger battle against the lack of new construction in the city.