Sunday, December 20, 2009

Israel to Freeze Jewish Immigration

In an emergency cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that in order to create the necessary positive atmosphere to restart peace negotiations with the Palestinians, all Jewish Immigration to Israel, "aliya," would be frozen immediately for a temporary period of 10 months.

Netanyahu explained that increased Jewish demographics in Israel via immigration, creating "facts on the ground" would cause mistrust between the Palestinians and Israel and "would not be helpful" in progressing the peace talks.

Israeli government ministers overwhelmingly approved (11-2) the temporary freeze in an effort to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the freeze "far-reaching and painful," yet the move would be "a very big step toward peace" and he hoped the Palestinians would "take full advantage" of the opportunity to restart talks during the 10-month window.

At least one key Security Cabinet member, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, came out in favor of the proposal. "Its aim is to open a window for renewing negotiations with the Palestinians," he said. 

"I hope that the Nefesh B'Nefesh immigration leadership, which is patriotic, responsible and serious, will understand the need for the decision at this time," Barak added. 

"The understandings with the United States are of the utmost importance with regard to negotiations, and guarantees of security and its military supremacy." 

The Nefesh B'Nefesh aliya/immigration organization was puzzled over the move. "Classical Zionism always included immigration of Jews to Israel and its our historic right to continue to move to Israel," stated a hastily compiled Nefesh B"Nefesh press-release.

MK and Minister Benny Beigin called the move, "painful but correct", and that after the 10 month immigration freeze, immigration would again resume.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon praised the "historic" decision, and urged the Palestinian Authority to seize the opportunity for peace.
"We hope the Arabs will not repeat the miscalculation of November 29, 1947, and will not miss the opportunity to achieve peace. Netanyahu's decision to freeze immigration is historic and unprecedented," Ayalon said during a discussion at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
But Danny Danon, a member of the Knesset from Netanyahu's Likud Party and chairman of the Settlers Council, opposed the announcement. "If the prime minister will implement the ideology of the left, he will not get the support of his own party," he said.

"All the things he wrote in his books, said in his speeches, he so eloquently preached for, he does exactly the opposite," said Danon, calling the move a "disappointment."

Foreign Ministry Director-General Yossi Gal summoned foreign ambassadors in Israel to a meeting in Jerusalem Monday. Gal is expected to brief the ambassadors regarding the cabinet's decision to freeze Jewish immigration for 10 months.

"We must work to achieve understanding and declarations of support for the Israeli move," the Foreign Ministry missive said. 

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said in a statement the Israeli move was a "step in the right direction" and "a positive contribution to peace."

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said his country wanted the Israeli decision to "become a step towards resuming meaningful negotiations."

He called on Israel to implement a full freeze on immigration, which he deemed "illegal."

Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Monday that he believed Israel's declaration of a 10-month freeze on Jewish immigration would lead to a renewal of peace talks with the Palestinians. 

MK Michael Ben-Ari [National Union] slammed the decision, calling it yet another nail in the coffin of Zionism. "First the disengagement from Gaza, then the construction freeze, and now the immigration freeze -- is there nothing left of Zionism?"

The Obama administration welcomed the decision Wednesday as a step toward resuming Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement released moments after Netanyahu announced the 10-month freeze.

1 comment:

  1. Wait, so how does this help Palestinians again? Wouldn't a better move be to pull back on settlements and fix the human rights issues reported by the UN?


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