East Jerusalem building plan widens Israel-US rift

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu

The planned 2,500 homes in Givat Hamatos have become the focus of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington.

Last night's meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama in the White House, that was meant to focus on Iran's nuclear program and the war against Islamic State, or so the Israeli entourage hoped, ended in a massive rift opening up between Jerusalem and Washington. One hour after Netanyahu and his entourage left the White House, US Administration spokespeople drew exceptionally harsh criticism of the plan to build 2,500 homes in Jerusalem's Givat Hamatos neighborhood, details of which appeared in the Israeli media shortly before Netanyahu flew to the US.

In response, Netanyahu said that he was not prepared to accept the criticism. He bitterly condemned those who revealed the plan on the eve of his US visit (Peace Now), without specifying the names of any organization that he was accusing of "lack of national responsibility".

In response, Americans for Peace Now spokesman Ori Nir told "Globes" that Netanyahu was shooting the messenger and that it was the Prime Minister who was showing national irresponsibility in approving such a sensitive plan, at such a sensitive time, on the eve of his meeting with Obama.

The first volley of criticism fired at Israel came from US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki who said that the Obama Administration was "deeply concerned" about the Givat Hamatos construction plan and that it sent a "troubling message" that "called into question Israel's ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement."

Shortly before his meeting with Obama, Netanyahu had reiterated his public commitment to "two states for two peoples."

Psaki added that the Givat Hamatos plan was drawing condemnation from the international community, even from Israel's closest allies, and would poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also the Arab states with whom Netanyahu wants to build relations.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on October 2, 2014

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2014 . .

Benjamin Netanyahu
Benjamin Netanyahu
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