JERUSALEM – Leading rabbis in Israel released a petition yesterday demanding President Obama cease pressuring the Jewish state on the issue of Jerusalem.
"Jerusalem is off limits, and we respectfully request that you stop all talk and pressure against Jewish construction in Jerusalem," reads a petition signed by 250 members of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace.The Congress is a coalition of Israeli rabbinic leaders, including pulpit rabbis and some of the most prestigious names in the Torah community.
"During these days when our nation mourns the destruction of Jerusalem and remembers in abhorrence those that destroyed it, we are sure that you, Mr. President, do not want to enter the list of those who raised a hand on Jerusalem and its Jewish inhabitants," the rabbis write.The rabbis state that besides the sanctity of Jerusalem, it is "totally illogical" to "even think" about negotiating with the Palestinians, pointing out "every piece of territory" taken over by the Palestinian Authority was turned into a sanctuary for terrorism and a launching for attacks against Jews.
The rabbis message follows a now confirmed report that the State Department last weekend summoned Israel's ambassador to Washington to demand a Jewish construction project in eastern Jerusalem be immediately halted.
The Obama administration has called for a halt to Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank in line with Palestinian claims on eastern Jerusalem as a future capital, even though the city was never a part of any Palestinian entity.
The construction project at the center of attention, financed by Miami Beach philanthropist Irving Moskowitz, is located just meters from Israel's national police headquarters and other government ministries and is a few blocks from the country's prestigious Hebrew University, underscoring the centrality of the Jewish real estate being condemned by the U.S.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly rejected the State Department demand, telling a cabinet meeting that Israel's sovereignty over Jerusalem was not a matter up for discussion.
"Imagine what would happen if someone were to suggest Jews could not live in or purchase [property] in certain neighborhoods in London, New York, Paris or Rome," he said.Netanyahu explained an open city does not discriminate against Jewish housing and that Israel would not accept a stance that counters that civil right.
"The international community would certainly raise protest. Likewise, we cannot accept such a ruling on East Jerusalem," Netanyahu told ministers.
"Israeli Arabs are not forbidden from buying houses in west Jerusalem, and Jews must be granted the same right in the eastern part of the city," he added.WND has confirmed that over the weekend the State Department summoned Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren to urge him to reject a permit granted to Moskowitz's housing project.
Moskowitz purchased an eastern Jerusalem hotel. He plans to tear it down and build housing units in its place. The Jerusalem municipality earlier this month granted approval to the project, allowing for the construction of 20 apartments plus a three-level underground parking lot.
Historically, there was never any separation between eastern and western Jerusalem. The terminology came after Jordan occupied the eastern section of the city, including the Temple Mount, from 1947 until it used the territory to attack the Jewish state in 1967. Israel reunited Jerusalem when it won the 1967 Six Day War.
While the U.S. strongly protests any Jewish construction in eastern Jerusalem, it has been actively aiding Palestinians building illegally upon Jewish owned land in eastern sections of the city, WND has exposed.
Nimer Hamad, senior political adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told WND the PA recently received guarantees against any Jewish construction in the West Bank or eastern Jerusalem taking place without the approval of the Obama administration and the Palestinians.
Last month, WND quoted a top PA negotiator stating the Obama administration told the Palestinians the "golden era" of Israeli construction in sections of Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank will soon come to an end.
"The U.S. assured us that for the first time since 1967, we are going into a period where there will not be allowed a single construction effort on the part of the Israelis in the settlements, including in Gush Etzion, Maale Adumum and eastern Jerusalem," said the negotiator, speaking from Ramallah on condition his name be withheld.The negotiator told WND the positions of the PA and U.S. regarding ongoing Jewish construction in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem "are closer than ever."
"The U.S. used to differentiate between natural growth and adding new communities. Not anymore. No construction will be allowed, not even natural growth," the PA negotiator said.
UN Chief to Israel: Freeze natural settlement growth - Ha'aretz
ZOA: Obama policy on eastern Jerusalem is ‘racist’ - Jewish Telegraphic Agency
A Jerusalem response to Obama - Ynetnews