Entries in Israeli President (1)


WH Condemns New Israeli Settlements Announced on Eve of Israeli President’s Visit

AHMAD GHARABLI/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- "The United States is deeply concerned by continuing Israeli actions with respect to settlement construction," said White House National Security Staff spokesman Tommy Vietor.

Not exactly a "Welcome Shimon Peres" card.

But then again -- for not the first time of the Obama presidency -- a U.S.-Israel meeting featured the overture of an announcement of new Israeli settlement permits, despite continued U.S. opposition to new Israeli settlement activity on disputed territories.

Israeli President Shimon Peres is due to have a working lunch at the White House Tuesday, but as Mr. Vietor notes, the Obama administration is "concerned" about the recent announcement by the Jerusalem District Planning and Construction Committee of approval of 942 housing units on the Southern Slopes of Gilo, in addition to the Israeli government's approval over the weekend of hundreds of apartments in West Bank settlements Gush Etzion, Ma'ale Adumim, Ariel, and Kiryat Sefer, as reported by Ha'aretz.

"Not only are continued Israeli settlements illegitimate, Israel’s actions run counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations," Vietor said.

Elie Isaacson, an adviser to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, told The New York Times that the timing was coincidence.

“There are no secrets whatsoever,” Isaacson said. “The plan is merely going from one bureaucratic stage to the next bureaucratic stage. The building policy in Jerusalem has been the same for 40 years.”

In February, the U.S. vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning as "illegal" the construction of Israeli settlements in occupied territory, but the matter was debated within the administration.

In March 2010, Vice President Biden was greeted in Israel with the news of the Israeli Interior Ministry approving 1,600 new housing units for Jews in Ramat Shlomo, in East Jerusalem. White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod called it an “affront” and an “insult."

“What it did was it made more difficult a very difficult process,” Axelrod said, adding that the move “seemed calculated to undermine” the so-called proximity talks going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis.  In an interview with ABC News that same month, Vice President Biden denied that he had told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that settlement activity put the lives of troops at risk.

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