Faced with growing criticism over his government’s announcement of a massive new housing project in occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come out swinging, chiding President Obama for calling the development “unhelpful” and expressing outrage that the settlements are even being called “settlements.”
“Jerusalem is not a settlement,” insisted Netanyahu, adding that even during the “partial” settlement freeze Israel continued to announce major projects in East Jerusalem, claiming it as their “eternal” capital.
But the international view of Jerusalem versus East Jerusalem is starkly different, and the parts of the city occupied in 1967 are not internationally recognized as part of Israel, but are still considered part of the West Bank.
Netanyahu insisted there is absolutely no connection between the stalled peace process and any settlement activities at any rate. This seems to be an increasingly difficult position to defend, however, as the peace talks stalled entirely over the issue of the settlement freeze and Palestinian negotiators have ruled out returning to the talks without a new freeze.