PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejects White House censure of Israel’s plan to construct 2,500 new residential units within its capital, in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos
• PM Netanyahu: These are not settlements, these are neighborhoods of Jerusalem, Israel’s capital!
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday rejected U.S. government criticism of an Israeli construction plan in an east Jerusalem neighborhood.
“I think [the Obama administration] should be acquainted with the facts first,” Netanyahu said in a NBC News interview with Andrea Mitchell in New York, after returning there from Washington, where he had met with U.S. President Barack Obama earlier in the day. “You know? First of all, these are not settlements. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighborhoods and we have Jewish neighborhoods.”
In response to reports on Wednesday of the publication of a plan, already approved by the Jerusalem Municipality two years ago, to construct 2,500 residential units in the capital’s Givat Hamatos neighborhood, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli government has moved forward with the planning process in a sensitive area of east Jerusalem.
“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.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki issued a similar statement, saying that going ahead with construction plans in Givat Hamatos would “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
Netanyahu was troubled by the timing of the U.S. criticism, telling NBC News, “It doesn’t make me feel good. I think the important thing is to just get the facts right. I mean, start with the facts.”
The prime minister said the specific issue of Givat Hamatos was not raised during his meeting with Obama on Wednesday.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=20475