State Department calls Jerusalem construction 'illegitimate,' maintains claim to being 'most pro-Israel administration evah'Monday press briefing.
QUESTION: On Israel, could you talk about Israel accelerating new settlement units that was just announced today, and if you – we could just follow on last week. It just seems that there’s a little bit of acrimony between the U.S. and Israel right now surrounding the defense minister’s visit, Israel now with these settlements and what’s going on.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we’ve seen – they’ve been reports. There haven’t been an official announcement at this point in time. We’re certainly deeply concerned by the reports. We are engaging at the highest levels with the Israeli Government from our Embassy on the ground to get --
QUESTION: Does that mean the President’s called?
MS. PSAKI: No. We’re – I said on the ground – from our Embassy on the ground to get more information. And we continue to make our position absolutely clear that we view settlement activity as illegitimate and unequivocally oppose unilateral steps that prejudge the future of Jerusalem. Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace, and that is certainly a message that we are conveying directly.
In terms of our relationship, the defense relationship, as you know, remains as strong as ever and the ties between us are unshakable. There are times when we disagree with actions of the Israeli Government, including settlements, the issue of settlements, where we have deep concerns about some of the steps the government is taking. We express those, but it does not mean that we don’t have a strong and formidable relationship that continues.The areas in which Israel approved construction over the weekend - Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa - are nowhere near any 'Palestinians' (okay, they're both near 'Palestinians,' but the areas in which the construction was approved are adjacent to already-existing Jewish housing).
The State Department is hung up on steps that 'prejudge the future of Jerusalem,' but through its opposition to construction in the city, it is prejudging the future of Jerusalem (and of the entire enterprise of a 'Palestinian state') by ensuring that the 'Palestinians' have no incentive to compromise on their zero sum demands. Israel has shown (Gaza disengagement) that it is willing to uproot 'settlements' (although it would need far stronger assurances that real peace is at hand than are currently on the horizon) for even a remote chance of peace. 'Settlements' are not an obstacle to peace. 'Settlements' are the only consequences that might have any hope on having any effect on the recalcitrance of the 'Palestinians.' by declaring 'settlements' 'illegitimate,' the United States ensures that the 'Palestinians' have NO incentive to compromise.
Additionally, the lack of construction has led to an impossible housing crisis in the city in which most construction is luxury construction that is being sold to foreign investors at prices that young couples can only dream about having the money to pay. A storage room with a window and a corner walled off as a bathroom can rent for nearly $1,000 per month in many neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
There's much more that's disturbing in this briefing and I suspect it's only going to get worse as there will be no consequences for Obama's behavior over the next two years and two months after November 4.