Deja vu all over again: Netanyahu slams Obama for speaking without checking the facts2,610 housing units in 'east Jerusalem.' The White House and the State Department blast Netanyahu within an hour after he leaves the White House.
Officials chose to publicly admonish the Israeli government only an hour after its premier left the building, presumably deciding on the language as the two leaders met in the Oval Office.But the apartments were approved in 2012.
"This development will only draw condemnation from the international community," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said afterwards. "It also would call into question Israel's ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians."
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki came out with similar language as Netanyahu departed for Joint Base Andrews air force base.
The homes will be built in Givat Hamatos, an area of the city that Palestinians believe should be a part of their future state.Really? They weren't announced until now? Hmmm.
The Jerusalem Municipality approved the project in December 2012, but waited almost two years - until the date of the bilateral meeting - to place news of the approval in a local Israeli paper, according to Peace Now, an organization opposed to Israel's presence beyond its 1967 borders.
Prime Minister Netanyahu harshly rejected the criticism, which now seemed to deal as much with seven existing buildings in Silwan, and not with 2,610 apartments in Givat HaMatos. This is from the first link in the paragraph.
Netanyahu, in a briefing in New York with reporters who accompanied him on his trip to the US, said that as Israel’s prime minister he did not understand the criticism of Jews legally buying and moving into property in Jerusalem.Oh, and by the way, it wasn't Netanyahu's government that made that 'poorly timed' announcement about Givat HaMatos during the meeting. It was 'Peace Now.'
“Arabs in Jerusalem freely buy apartments, and nobody says that is forbidden. I will also not say that Jews cannot buy property in Jerusalem. There cannot be discrimination between Jews and Arabs,” he said.
Netanyahu said that nobody “stole” the houses in Jerusalem or took them over by force. “This is a normal process, and I see no reason to discriminate,” he said.
Just hours before, White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the US condemned the “occupation of residential buildings in the Palestinian neighborhood of Silwan in east Jerusalem -- this is near the old city -- by individuals who are associated with an organization whose agenda, by definition, stokes tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Earnest said that the moves by Elad are “provocative acts” that only serve “to escalate tensions at a moment when those tensions have already been high.”
Earnest also slammed Israel in very harsh language for moving forward with planning for homes in the Givat Hamatos area in south Jerusalem. The anti-settlement Peace Now group made another technical step taken at the local planning level last week on Givat Hamatos public on Wednesday, just prior to the Obama-Netanyahu meeting.
“This step is contrary to Israel's stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians,” Earnest said.
“This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”
Without mentioning Peace Now by name, Netanyahu said the group demonstrated a “lack of national responsibility” by publicizing this in order to “harm the meeting.” He said that it was not a “coincidence” that Peace Now publicized the information on Wednesday morning, and that it was meant to sabotage his meeting with Obama.Netanyahu also said that neither Silwan nor Givat HaMatos came up during his meeting with Hussein Obama. But Israel Radio reports that they did come up.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly leveled unusually stern criticism of the White House's decision to criticize Israeli plans to build 1,610 homes in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem during his meeting with President Barack Obama.
Israeli public radio quoted Netanyahu as telling Obama in talks in Washington Wednesday to "study the facts and details before making statements" about the building plan.
Netanyahu's reported comments to Obama echoed similar statement he made to journalists following the meeting, in which he rejected US criticism as discriminatory.
But the bottom line is that as much as it may bother Obama, both he and Netanyahu now recognize that the 'Palestinian question' is not a high priority item. The difference between them is that Netanyahu still regards Iran as the priority, while Obama is much more concerned about Islamic State. Of course, Obama is not concerned enough to take effective action against Islamic State, but we've heard that one before as well."It’s worth learning the information properly before deciding to take a position like that," he said of the statement.