Tensions between the Obama Administration and Israel’s government continued to grow today as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that a planned expansion to an East Jerusalem settlement would continue. The US had previously summon Israel’s ambassador to urge them to halt the construction of 20 apartments in the occupied territory.
Israeli officials went on to mock the call, which Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described as odd. Lieberman insisted that since the US had never criticized the construction of Arab homes in the city, it was inappropriate to criticize government construction of homes in the settlement. Netanyahu declared that since Jerusalem was, in his government’s view, the “united capital” of Israel, and said they could never accept the US “edict.”
President Obama’s plan for an independent, albeit severely restricted, Palestinian state was to have a capital in East Jerusalem. Presumably the expansion of settlements in what he envisioned as the Palestinian capital city explains the president’s objection. US officials reportedly say they see no difference between the settlements in East Jerusalem or anywhere else in the West Bank
East Jerusalem was occupied by the Israeli military in 1967 and in 1980 passed a law declaring that it would remain united under Israeli control. Its sovereignty over East Jerusalem is not generally recognized by the international community.