On Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said that latest Israeli settlement action doesn’t help peace negotiations with the Palestinians and that neither side is making the special effort required for a breakthrough.
On Monday Israel said it would push forward with plans for 1,300 new apartments for Jewish families in Arab East Jerusalem, regardless of furious opposition from Palestinians.
On Wednesday, Obama told a news conference in Jakarta, “This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations”.
When asked about reports of the renewed settlement plans he said, “And I’m concerned that we’re not seeing each side make the extra effort involved to get a breakthrough that could finally create a framework for a secure Israel living side by side in peace with a sovereign Palestine.”
The timing of the annunciation could be an embarrassment for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is in the US searching for ways to revive Middle East peace talks that have been postponed over the Jewish settlement-building.
Benjamin Netanyahu speak in response of criticism on the latest Israeli project by mentioning that Jewish homes had gone up in Arab East Jerusalem during previous rounds of peace talks, without blocking them.
Netanyahu’s office said in a statement issued shortly after Obama’s criticism was reported, “Jerusalem is not a settlement. Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel”.
“Israel sees no connection between the peace process and planning and building policy in Jerusalem … The disputes with the United States on the matter of Jerusalem are known … We hope to overcome them and keep diplomatic talks moving ahead”.