(JNS.org) In the face of criticism from the United States and European Union, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday defended his decision to advance 1,060 new housing units in the Jerusalem neighborhoods of Ramat Shlomo and Har Homa, which are both located beyond the pre-1967 lines.
“The French build in Paris, the English build in London, and the Israelis build in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said at the Knesset. “To come and tell Jews not to build in Jerusalem—why? Because it will heat up the atmosphere? To certain elements in the region, our very existence is what heats up the atmosphere.”
“There is broad agreement among the public that Israel has every right to build in the Jewish neighborhoods of Jerusalem and the settlement blocs,” he added. “Every Israeli government over the past 50 years has done so. It is also clear to the Palestinians that these places will remain in Israel in any future agreement.”
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “Israel’s leaders have said they would support a pathway to a two-state solution, but moving forward with this type of action would be incompatible with the pursuit of peace, and that is certainly a message that we are conveying directly.”
Maja Kocijancic, spokeswoman for outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the construction decision “will call once again into serious question Israel’s commitment to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians.”