by WorldTribune Staff, October 7, 2016
The “Middle East is burning” and the Obama administration is obsessing over “a few housing units” in Israel, the Israeli Justice Minister said in response to the U.S. State Department’s scolding over new settlements.
On Oct. 5, the State Department released a statement saying it “strongly condemn[s] the Israeli government’s recent decision to advance a plan that would create a significant settlement deep in the West Bank.”
“Their statement is a bit disproportionate, to say the least,” Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked told Army Radio on Oct. 6.
“The Middle East is burning, and the people of Syria are being slaughtered daily…. I think the United States should concern itself with saving civilians in Syria and not with issuing harsh statements over a few housing units.”
The State Department statement questioned the Israeli government’s intention to build 98 housing units for Amona evacuees in Shiloh, in the West Bank.
“We have to do what is correct for us,” Shaked said. “Of course we are allies and friends, of course we listen, but at the end of the day, the State of Israel must do what is right for itself.”
PLO secretary-general Saeb Erekat, meanwhile, said while he welcomed the U.S. criticism, “we expect the United States to translate its statements into real action… the U.S. must implement the necessary tools to end Israeli settlements.”
Deputy Minister for Foreign Policy Michael Oren also brushed off American criticism.
“What happened yesterday with the American statement isn’t new,” he said in an Oct. 6 interview with Army Radio. “This government has a certain view about settlements, and if we built in Gilo or Ramat Eshkol [in Jerusalem], the reaction would be the same. We have a dispute [with the U.S.] and it didn’t start yesterday, it started in 1967.”
Knesset Land of Israel Caucus chairman Yoav Kisch (Likud) and MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) said that as the leader of the democratic world, the U.S. should respect the decision of Israel’s democratic government.
“He who claims to be the leader of the free world should avoid attempting to trample Israel’s independence,” they warned, adding that Israel was “our land long before America belonged to the Americans.”