As we recently suggested here, Los Angeles Times columnist Edmund Sanders writes that U.S. President Obama’s crisis over the building licensure for Ramat Shlomo could provide prime minister Netanyahu with a political boost:
By drawing a line against expansion of Israeli housing units in Jerusalem, the Obama administration is confronting a policy that enjoys a strong consensus among Israelis: the effort to ensure that the city remains united and under their control.
U.S. officials reacted with fury last week to a decision to build 1,600 housing units in an area of… East Jerusalem…
But focusing the debate on Jerusalem may actually prove to be of domestic political benefit for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu…
“For Netanyahu, this is the best issue you could have given him,” said Efraim Inbar, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University, who said the prime minister could emerge politically stronger by refusing American pressure to limit or temporarily delay housing construction in East Jerusalem.
“Jerusalem touches an important nerve for so many Jews that they would support the government, even in a confrontation with the U.S.,” Inbar said. “Even if it causes damage, sometimes you have to draw a red line.”
He said about 70% of Israelis support a “united Jerusalem” under Israel’s control, according to polls he has conducted.
The Jewish population of East Jerusalem has grown from almost nothing before 1967 to 200,000 today.