Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has slammed what he called a “deliberate” attempt by the leftist Peace Now movement to sabotage his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday.
The group publicly recycled stale news about a Jerusalem housing project in the southern part of the capital that had already won its initial approval in 2011, with its final processing and approval signed last week. Such projects are frowned upon by the international community, including the United States. The news “leak” was timed to coincide with Netanyahu’s meeting at the White House.
“This is irresponsibility on the international level – for some element to publish a statutory plan in order to sabotage a very important meeting that dealt with the Iranian nuclear program, our basic security questions and Islamic State (ISIS),” Netanyahu said in an interview with Amit Segal on Israel’s Channel 2 News, to be aired after the Yom Kippur holiday.
The announcement of 2,610 new building tenders in Jerusalem’s Givat Hamatos neighborhood was greeted with a harsh condemnation by the State Department, which labeled the project “poison.” Spokesperson Jen Psaki claimed the new homes in southern Jerusalem 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, and call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, meanwhile, also slammed ‘Peace Now’ for its attempt to sabotage the prime minister’s meeting at the White House over the issue, and underscored the group’s foreign ties. Peace Now, a worthless organization whose budget mostly comes from foreign sources, leaked the news the same day as the prime minister’s meeting with the president of the United States in order to poison the atmosphere,” Katz charged.
Likewise, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat rejected the condemnations and instead said the construction in the holy city was “essential, important and will continue with full force.” He added that he will “not freeze construction for anyone” in Israel’s capital. “Discrimination based on religion, race or gender is illegal in the United States and in any other civilized country,” Barkat said.
“[The] 2,600 apartments in Givat HaMatos that we approved two years ago will enable more young people from all sectors and religions to live in Jerusalem and build their future here, thereby strengthening the capital of Israel. We will not apologize for that.”