On April 18th, the Jerusalem Municipal Planning Committee was scheduled to deliberate on the extension of the building permit for the Mughrabi Ramp. The deliberations were largely a formality, necessary because all building permits expire after one year if not acted upon, and the outcome a foregone conclusion.
However, the scheduled deliberations on renewing the permit didn’t take place. After the plan to hold the deliberation was published in Maariv (and subsequently in the international press and regional press), the Prime Minister’s office reportedly weighed in and, under pressure, the Municipality put off the deliberations off for the time being.
The decision to defer consideration of this matter should not be dismissed as unimportant. This experience demonstrates, again, that Prime Minister Netanyahu is capable, of intervening and acting responsibly – and has the political space to do so – if and when he wants.
Moreover, while the renewal of the Mughrabi permit would not have been either new or a disaster in and of itself, it would have created a situation in which construction could occur at a whim. If the permit is renewed, it would suffice for Netanyahu to wake up in a bad mood or for the Palestinians to do something which really annoyed him for construction at the Mughrabi Gate to commence. The decision to defer consideration of the renewal of the permit means that it will be at least a few weeks between a decision to build and the actual construction – time in which, potentially, tempers can cool and reason be restored.
Finally, this decision underscores Netanyahu’s apparent sensitivity to the Jordanian equities surrounding the Mughrabi Ramp.