Though many expected him to deliver a more measured response in the wake of last week’s very public row with the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered another angry rebuke to the Obama Administration over the settlement expansion which stalled the US brokered indirect peace talks.
Netanyahu declared that the settlements in occupied East Jerusalem weren’t technically settlements at all, because “everyone knows” that Jerusalem will be the eternal and undivided capital of Israel. Israel invaded and occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, along with the rest of the West Bank, and its legal control over the territory has never been established in international law.
But this did not stop Netanyahu from declaring that Israel had been “unjustly accused of not wanting peace” because of the settlement expansion, which killed the peace talks. Netanyahu insisted that his government has consistently shown a commitment to peace “from day one” and that it was only the Palestinians who were holding up the process.
Despite Netanyahu’s claims, many members of his right-far-right coalition government have been outspoken opponents of any peace process, not the least of which being the nation’s top diplomat, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has repeatedly said that peace talks will never accomplish anything and that Israel must never agree to any territorial concessions to the Palestinians. The settlement announcement was made by another opponent of the peace process, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, and appears to have been timed to do as much damage to the prospective talks as possible.