The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) on Thursday criticized the tone and timing of what it called the Obama administration’s “intensified critique” of Israel for movement on housing plans in eastern Jerusalem.
“The Obama administration’s intensified critique of Israel for housing plans in East Jerusalem, saying it will poison the atmosphere and even come between Israel and ‘its closest allies,’ is myopic, ill-timed and off the mark,” said ADL National Director Abraham H. Foxman.
“The United States and Israel should remain solidly focused on the issues the President and Prime Minister outlined in public comments before their private meeting — shared concerns about the global threat of Iran’s nuclear program, the battle against the peril to the region from brutal extremists, and a way forward for Israel and the Palestinians — after the seven weeks of fighting — to stop Hamas rocket attacks against Israel,” he added.
“Just days after the President told the UN that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far from the main destabilizing factor in the region, elevating the issue of settlement construction to center stage by calling into question Israel’s commitment to peace and suggesting it is a potential wedge in its alliances is misplaced.”
Foxman contiuned, “One need only to recall the complete withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and Israel’s unilateral ten month freeze on new settlement construction to understand that Israeli settlements are not and never have been the impediment to an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.”
“Just last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas used his address before the UN to vilify Israel, reject reconciliation and to turn away from direct negotiations, which the U.S. called ‘deeply disappointing.’ The escalation and harshness of U.S. criticism ignores and, ultimately, serves to reinforce this intransigence,” said Foxman.
The backlash against Israel is mainly over a plan to build 2,610 new homes in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos.
The housing units were slated for construction since 2012 and were given final approval last week.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki criticized the move on Wednesday, using unusually harsh language in doing so.
She said the step would send a “troubling message” and added the construction would “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.”
Netanyahu responded to Washington’s criticism in a series of interviews to the foreign press, in which he urged the U.S. to study the facts before it criticizes.
Psaki came back and rejected Netanyahu’s claims in her daily press briefing Thursday, saying, “I think we have our information clear, and we responded to the facts on the ground.”
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