Priorities! State Department ignores Syria, blasts Israel for giving Jews in Samaria a place to liveblasted the Government of Israel for attempting to resettle the Jews of Amona, a neighborhood in Ofra (Samaria), in an alternate location in Samaria.
The statement, signed by Mark Toner, deputy spokesman for the State Department, drew an unusual linkage between the signing of the defense aid agreement with Israel and criticism of settlement building.
Toner stressed that the U.S. views advancement of the plan as a violation of a commitment by Netanyahu's government not to establish any new settlements in the West Bank.
The White House later further escalated the criticism, as Josh Ernest said that the decision constitutes a violation of a commitment undertaken by the Israeli government to the U.S. administration, adding that this isn't how friends behave.
"We had public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict this new announcement – so when you talk about how friends treat each other – this is also a source of concern. There is a lot of disappointment and great concern here at the White House," he said.
The criticism comes against the backdrop of the Civil Administration Planning Commission's decision last Wednesday to approve a plan for the construction of 98 housing units in the new settlement to be established next to the Shvut Rachel settlement.
According to the plan, it will be possible to build up to 300 housing units and an industrial zone. The NRG web site and Channel 2 were the first to publish the decision. The new settlement, which settlers say is only a neighborhood of the existing settlement of Shvut Rachel, can provide housing for residents of the illegal outposts of Amona, who are expected to be evicted by the end of December.And in the seven years since the Bar Ilan speech, there have effectively been NO negotiations. At some point, life has to move on.
A senior U.S. official said that the White House boiled with anger at the advancement of the plan and even more at the timing of the decision – just a week after the signing of the military aid agreement by which the U.S. will give Israel $38 billion for a decade, and the day of the death of former president Shimon Peres, whose funeral was attended by President Barack Obama.
A large part of American anger was due to the administration seeing the step as a violation of a commitment Netanyahu gave Obama in 2009 that Israel would not build any new settlements. In his speech at Bar-Ilan that year, Netanyahu said he agreed to the establishment of a Palestinian state and added: "The territorial issues will be discussed in a permanent agreement. Till then we have no intention to build new settlements or set aside land for new settlements."
Ironically, the best thing that could happen for the 'peace process' would be for the 'Palestinians' to actually feel they are losing something by not coming to the table. Nothing else has even a remote chance of bringing them to the table.
The statement was unusual both in its length of more than 300 words, and in content, using strong language to express U.S. objections to advancement of the plan.Still waiting to hear Obama 'strongly condemn' Assad, let alone do something about him. But priorities man, priorities.
"We strongly condemn the Israeli government's recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant new settlement deep in the West Bank, State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said.
And then the State Department dug deeper.
One of the statement's clauses referred to the defense aid agreement. Its wording was most extraordinary, for through the years the U.S. has avoided creating any linkage between defense aid to Israel and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or the settlement construction issue.So we owe it to Peres' 'legacy' to create his virtual state on an island and jump into the sea? How absurd!
"It is deeply troubling, in the wake of Israel and the U.S. concluding an unprecedented agreement on military assistance designed to further strengthen Israel's security, that Israel would take a decision so contrary to its long term security interest in a peaceful resolution of its conflict with the Palestinians," Toner added.
The State Department's statement also referred to the timing of the decision – the day of former President Shimon Peres' death, saying:
"Furthermore, it is disheartening that while Israel and the world mourned the passing of President Shimon Peres, and leaders from the U.S. and other nations prepared to honor one of the great champions of peace, plans were advanced that would seriously undermine the prospects for the two state solution that he so passionately supported."
Read the whole thing.