Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tension Mounts over Jerusalem Housing Plan Palestinians Vow Nonviolent Resistance to Keep Israel from Building Complex

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Tension Mounts over Jerusalem Housing Plan Palestinians Vow Nonviolent Resistance to Keep Israel from Building Complex

Article excerpt

Israelis and Palestinians girded Monday for a showdown at Har Homa, a disputed patch of east Jerusalem where Israel plans to build 6,500 apartment units. The Palestinians want to preserve the area for their future capital.

Israeli soldiers in riot gear and carrying rifles took up positions behind boulders at the site while Palestinians pitched tents and vowed to block the bulldozers with their bodies if necessary. The Palestinians promised that their resistance would be nonviolent.

Both sides were waiting for Israel's government to give the order for construction to begin. An Israeli official said surveyors would be sent to the site today, with groundbreaking likely to be Wednesday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is determined to go ahead with the project. "When it comes to Jerusalem, we are ready to confront anyone . . . to assert our sovereignty," Netanyahu said Monday. "If we do not stand up to threats over Jerusalem, we will not stand up to threats over anything." Despite the belligerent statements, negotiators from both sides scrambled to avert a showdown by arranging a summit meeting between Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. They were prodded by the United States and Jordan. "We are trying to exert every possible effort at these critical hours to give the peace process the chance it deserves," Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said after meeting with Israeli officials. "We want to settle our differences through negotiations, not dictates or bulldozers." It seemed unlikely Israel would back down in light of the pressure being exerted on Netanyahu by Israeli hard-liners. His pledge to go ahead with the project cooled a rebellion within the Knesset and helped to defeat a motion of no confidence by a vote of 46-54 Monday. Although critical of the housing project, the U. …

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