Netanyahu Takes Hard Line on Jerusalem Housing

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, under extraordinary pressure from the Obama administration to curb the construction of Jewish housing in Jerusalem, served notice on Monday that his government would not yield easily to American demands.

In a speech to a pro-Israel lobbying group, Mr. Netanyahu reiterated that Israel had no plans to freeze housing in Jerusalem, the trigger for a recent dispute between Israel and the United States. He rejected the administration’s contention that Israel’s policies were impeding the peace process.

“The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years, and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today,” Mr. Netanyahu said to the group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. “Jerusalem is not a settlement; It’s our capital.”

Earlier Monday, Mr. Netanyahu met for 75 minutes with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in the first of a series of meetings expected to reveal whether the United States sticks to its hard line with Israel on settlements. He later met with Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and he was scheduled to meet President Obama on Tuesday.

The flurry of meetings is designed to calm the waters after nearly two weeks of tension between the United States and Israel, amid a diplomatic row that both countries have portrayed as the gravest in years. But judging by Mr. Netanyahu’s comments, it is far from clear that he plans to satisfy the demands that Mrs. Clinton made of him in a phone call 10 days ago.

The State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley, said that Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Netanyahu had “had a further discussion of the specific actions that might be taken to improve the atmosphere.” He did not give details.

The prime minister’s remarks were a pointed bookend to an earlier address to the same group by Mrs. Clinton. She warned that the Obama administration would push back “unequivocally” when it disagreed with the Israeli government’s policies. But she reaffirmed that America’s support for Israel was “rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever.”

Mrs. Clinton sought to build solidarity with Israel on one area where they clearly have common ground, the potential nuclear threat from Iran. In the most enthusiastically received part of her speech, she pledged to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon.

She said the Obama administration was seeking sanctions with “bite.” That characterization is a modest, but noticeable, retreat from the administration’s language from last year, when Mrs. Clinton said the United States was seeking “crippling sanctions.”

“There must be no gap between the United States and Israel on security,” she said to loud applause.

The crowd of 7,000 quieted down quickly when Mrs. Clinton bluntly warned that the status quo in the Middle East was unsustainable, and that Israel’s continued construction of Jewish housing was undermining the prospect for peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mrs. Clinton defended her rebuke of Mr. Netanyahu’s government over its announcement of 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem during Mr. Biden’s visit. The move, she said, jeopardized indirect talks that the administration is trying to broker between Israelis and Palestinians.

“Our credibility in this process depends in part on our willingness to praise both sides when they are courageous, and when we don’t agree, to say so, and say so unequivocally,” she said.

In her call to Mr. Netanyahu, she demanded that Israel reverse the housing plan in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo; that the Israelis avoid further provocations in Jerusalem during planned peace talks; and that Mr. Netanyahu commit to substantive rather than procedural negotiations with the Palestinians, as Israel has said it would prefer.

Continue reading: NEW YORK TIMES

RELATED: TPM:

Netanyahu Defiant

Bibi Netanyahu gave his speech this evening at the annual AIPAC conference. And it amounted to one big ‘shove it’ to the president and the administration.

–Josh Marshall

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Posted in Israeli-Palestinian conflict, US - Israel relations, US Foreign Policy
One comment on “Netanyahu Takes Hard Line on Jerusalem Housing
  1. Dr. O. P. Sudrania says:

    Sohail, I do not want to sound Islamophobic, but as their well wisher, I have to admit that in modern days of information technology and fast modes of developments of transport and communication, everybody has become ultra sensitive.

    The medieval practices of irreconcilable physical violence, showing no respect to non-muslims, reacting aggressively on just trivial stimuli with no respect to others’ feelings on the similar grounds, no gender equality, no respect
    for common law, forceful subjugation of not only non-muslims but even in the various groups of muslims too, no respect for non Islamic Education – religious or otherwise, obtuse feelings of a superior race, and etc etc.

    A lot of people are now even scared to utter the name of Islam or Muslims for fear of a retaliatory unpredictable reflex reaction. It may show fear outwardly but it also shows the underlying disrespect towards the cult and community. This is a matter for concern, more for the muslim world than the others. They are at the real stake. Like Osama bin Ladens, there are Netanyahus, Geert Wilders too. Let us not get involved in again in cause and effect sequence of individuality.

    Uncle Shams are always opportunistics. Try to read Ma’m Clintons lips, not her words. With my full respect and as well as a wisher, the Muslim world need to sit and retrospect before going on on “neighbour bashing”. In this world, we all have our mud houses only. No point on mud-slinging.

    With my kindest regards and respect, and no malice to none except to those who preach and practice hate, violence and war in the false sense of superiority and dexterity. That should include muslims as well as non-muslims equally. The message must be made loud and clear. Live and let live.

    Dr. O. P. Sudrania

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