'U.S. Administration Is Ignoring a Host of Palestinian Provocations'

Leading U.S. Republican Eric Cantor slams his government's reaction to Israeli plan for East Jerusalem.

Natasha Mozgovaya
Haaretz Correspondent
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Natasha Mozgovaya
Haaretz Correspondent

Eric Cantor, a leading Republican official in the U.S. House of Representatives, on Monday lashed out at the Obama administration's recent criticism of Israel over its announcement that it would construct 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

Israel drew angry reactions from the U.S. and the Palestinians by announcing new construction in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood during a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last week.

Israeli envoy to the U.S. Michael Oren, meanwhile, told the country's diplomats there that U.S.-Israeli relations face their worst crisis in 35 years.

Republican Whip Cantor (R-VA) called the U.S. reaction to the Israeli announcement "irresponsible."

"In an effort to ingratiate our country with the Arab world, this administration has shown a troubling eagerness to undercut our allies and friends," Cantor said. "Israel has always been committed to the peace process, including advocating for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, in effort to bring this conflict to an end. Unfortunately, the Palestinian government continues to insist on indirect talks and slowing down the process."

Cantor continued by accusing the U.S. administration of ignoring "a host of Palestinian provocations that undermine prospects for peace in the region."

He said, "Where is the outrage when top Fatah officials call for riots on the Temple Mount? Why does the Palestinian Authority get a pass when it holds a ceremony glorifying the woman responsible for one of the deadliest terror attack in Israel's history? Surely, the administration's double standard has set back the peace process."

Cantor also said that Israel continues to be a world leader in the fight against terrorism and against the prospects of a nuclear Iran.

"For this administration to treat our special relationship with Israel, one of our closest and most strategic democratic allies, in this fashion is beyond irresponsible and jeopardizes America's national security," said Cantor.

The Republican Jewish Coalition said Monday that it was also deeply upset by the recent tone and actions of the Obama administration regarding Israel.

"The strident and unwarranted escalation of tension, which has turned a minor diplomatic embarrassment into a major international incident, has raised serious concerns about the administration's Israel policy from a variety of mainstream voices," RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said.

"We believe the administration's actions are disproportionate and one-sided," he added.

On Sunday, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee condemned the recent statements from the U.S. government regarding its ties with Israel, amid tensions over Israel's recent announcement of its construction plan.

"The Obama administration's recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern," said AIPAC in a statement.

AIPAC is considered the most influential pro-Israel pressure group in the United States.

"AIPAC calls on the administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State," the statement said.

The pro-Israel group urged the U.S. government to move past the recent diplomatic upheaval between Washington and Jerusalem.

"The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests," the AIPAC statement said.

The leftist pro-Israel group J Street, meanwhile, released a statement Monday supporting the Obama administration's recent actions.

"As Vice President Biden said, 'Sometimes only a friend can deliver the hardest truth.' That is what he, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod have done in recent days - and J Street, along with many friends of Israel, stands solidly behind them," said J Street executive director Jeremy Ben-Ami.

"Bold American leadership is needed now to turn this crisis into a real opportunity to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a fundamental American national security interest," he said.

Abraham Foxman, who heads the Anti-Defamation League, told Haaretz he believes U.S. President Barack Obama is a friend of Israel.

"But I think it's a mistaken and counterproductive strategy and flawed analysis of what is in the best interest of the U.S.," Foxman said. "Support of Israel has served the U.S. interests more than supporting anyone else in the world."



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