U.S. Responds to Netanyahu: We'll Keep Expressing Our Views on E. Jerusalem Construction

After PM calls U.S. criticism of Israeli construction plans 'detached from reality,' State Dept. hints plans may have repercussion for Israel globally.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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The Elkana settlement in the West Bank.
The Elkana settlement in the West Bank.Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

The United States has rejected Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statements that the U.S. criticism of Israeli construction in East Jerusalem is "detached from reality" and distances peace.

"We saw the PM's remarks. Our view on construction in East Jerusalem is clear – we will continue to express our views on this issue," State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki told reporters.

Psaki added that the U.S. objects to unilateral moves in Jerusalem, and stressed that taking actions which are not conductive to peace will make resuming peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians much harder.

Psaki even hinted that Israeli construction in East Jerusalem may have repercussions for Israel's international standing. "Israel cares about their place in the world – if they want to achieve peace there are actions they will have to do," she said.

At the same time, it was reported that the UN Security Council will convene on Wednesday following a request by Jordan and the Palestinians to discuss the situation in East Jerusalem in general, and the Israeli decision to push forward plans for over 1,000 housing units beyond the Green Line in particular.

Top officials in the Foreign Ministry noted that at this stage, the Security Council's meeting will only include statements and speeches, and not any resolutions.

On Monday, Netanyahu hit back at foreign criticism of his announcement that Israel was pushing forward plans for 1,060 new housing units beyond the Green Line, including in East Jerusalem, saying the criticism was "detached from reality."

"I head the claim that our construction in the Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem is distancing peace," Netanyahu said, referring to an earlier statement by the U.S. State Department.

"It's the criticism which distances peace. These statements foster false hopes by the Palestinians."

The U.S. and the European Union condemned the decision to push construction plans in East Jerusalem, with State Department Spokesman Jen Psaki saying Washington was "deeply concerned" by reports of Netanyahu's plans.

Responding to Netanyahu's announcement, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the Palestinian Authority is appealing to the United Nations Security Council to call on Israel to halt its disruptions in Jerusalem, as well as the ongoing actions by settlers against the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

A letter from Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour to the council president on Monday called on the international community to demand that Israel "cease forthwith all of its illegal settlement activities" in East Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, riots in East Jerusalem, which have been going on for several days, continued Monday as Palestinians clashed with police and attacked property.