Tue, Nov 09, 2010 | Prime Minister’s Office | By Crethi Plethi
Israel Slams Obama’s Remarks On Housing Plans in Jerusalem
The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement on Tuesday saying “Jerusalem is not a settlement. Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.” The statement was a response to President Barack Obama’s remarks in Indonesia when he was asked whether “Israel’s advanced planning for more than a thousand new homes in Jerusalem” undermines his peace efforts and trust between Israelis and Palestinians?
“I’ve been out of town, so I’m just seeing the press reports. I have not had a full briefing on Israel’s intentions and what they’ve communicated to our administration, but this kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations. And I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough that could finally create a framework for a secure Israel living side and side in peace with a sovereign Palestine,” Obama said.
“We’re going to keep on working on it, though, because it is in the world’s interest, it is in the interest of the people of Israel, and it is in the interest of the Palestinian people to achieve … that agreement. But each of these incremental steps can end up breaking down trust between the parties.”
The Palestinians view any activity of construction of settlements in the West Bank, as well as new housing in Jerusalem as a stumbling block in the direct negotiations, but Israel makes a sharp distinction between building in the West Bank and in east Jerusalem. From November of last year to September, it halted new settlement construction in the West Bank, but during that time Israel continued to issue new tenders for building in east Jerusalem.
The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement on Tuesday
Jerusalem is not a settlement; Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel. Israel has never accepted upon itself restrictions of any kind on construction in Jerusalem, which has approximately 800,000 residents, including during the ten months in which construction was suspended in Judea and Samaria.
Israel sees no connection between the diplomatic process and planning and building policy in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. All Israeli governments in the past 40 years have built in all parts of the city. During this period, peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan, and for 17 years, diplomatic negotiations have been conducted with the Palestinians. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never hindered the peace process.
The disagreements with the US over Jerusalem are well-known. They are not new and have continued for 40 years. We hope to overcome them and continue to advance the diplomatic negotiations. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is looking forward to his planned Thursday meeting with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton in order to advance the peace talks.
The prime minister is not scheduled to meet with Obama, who is still touring Asia.
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan, which represents the settlements in the West Bank, said that Obama’s statements show he’s
“…out of touch with the reality of the facts on the ground. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided. This is the ultimate hypocrisy to say one thing in an election campaign and to take the opposite position in reality,” Dayan said.
“The people of Israel have every right, both legal and moral, to build for the needs of our families and the future of our nation in our undivided capital. These continued pronouncements by an American president so critical of the only democracy in the Middle East only serve to further damage the historically strong relations between our two countries,” he said.
In New York, Netanyahu addressed the controversy in an interview with American media, saying that “the settlements are a minor issue and it’s been way overblown…It’s just that it hasn’t really blocked the flow of peace…You are talking about a handful of apartments that really don’t affect the map at all contrary to impressions that might be perceived from certain news reports. So it’s a minor issue that might be turned to a major issue,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu also criticized the Palestinians for making an issue of Israel’s resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank.
While President Obama had tough words for Israel, he is again reaching out to the Islamic world. President Obama will make a major speech addressed to the Islamic world on Wednesday giving an update on America’s “new beginning” with Muslims that he promised last year in his speech in Cairo.
In his speech, Obama will hold up Indonesia as a model: a majority Muslim nation that is tolerant of other religions and an evolving democracy. Which is of course not true, given Indonesia’s record of atrocities in Western New Guinea, Timor and Malukku Islands and sharia rule implemented in aceh.
“With respect to outreach to the Muslim world, I think that our efforts have been earnest and sustained. We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed over a long period of time, but we do think that we’re on the right path,” Obama said at a joint news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Tuesday.
Obama continues to appease the Muslim World, however, in doing so he will only strenghten radical elements in the Middle East, giving Lebanon over to the Iran-Syria-Hizballah bloc, encouraging Iran to defy U.S. demands to halt it’s nuclear program while radical groups as Hizballah and Hamas will see it as an encouragement to continue with their terrorist activities against Israel.
Apparantly, criticizing Israel goes hand in hand with reaching out to the Muslim world.