This Week in Obstacles to Mideast Peace
No treaty soon with Lebanon; more Jewish building in East Jerusalem?
Lebanon will be the last Arab state to sign a peace treaty with Israel, or so says Lebanese Foreign Minister Fawzi Salloukh, reiterating his government’s stance that Israel should withdraw from the territory it has occupied since the 2006 Israel-Lebanon War. He also denied claims by Israeli President Shimon Peres that Hezbollah has stockpiled 80,000 rockets. “I don’t know how he counted these rockets,” Salloukh told The Daily Star of Lebanon. “Let them [Israel] give us a list showing who the source is and how they identify these rockets. [Peres] imagines too much.”
Meanwhile, East Jerusalem is the source for further real-estate controversy as the city is denying claims by a pro-settler group that it approved the construction of 104 new houses in Ras al-Amud , a predominantly Arab neighborhood. The Ir Amim association, which opposes the construction, said that the plan is build a bridge to connect Ras al-Amud to the Jewish neighborhood of Ma’aleh Hazeitim, a claim that the city denies. The controversy has fractured the Jerusalem City Council—in favor of more conservative, pro-settler elements—with some members, such as Meir Margalit, a Meretz Party councilman, wishing the United States would bring greater pressure to bear on the Netanyahu government to squash such expansionism.