Netanyahu defends settlement construction after US criticism

Published October 28th, 2014 - 02:35 GMT

Netanyahu, at a ground-breaking ceremony for a new port in Ashdod, said Israel would continue to build new ports, pave roads, lay rail road tracks and “continue to build in our eternal capital.”

“I heard the claim that our building in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem makes peace more distant, but it is the criticism itself that makes peace more distant,” Netanyahu said of criticism that poured in following his announcement of plans to develop 660 more units in Ramot Shlomo in the northern part of the city and 400 in the southern neighborhood of Har Homa.

This criticism, he said, is “detached from reality” and feeds false Palestinian hopes.

US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday that plans for new projects in Jerusalem were “incompatible with the pursuit of peace." And Maja Kocijancic, a spokeswoman for outgoing EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, said the move “once again” calls into question Israel's commitment “to a negotiated solution with the Palestinians.” She warned that “the future development of relations between the EU and Israel will depend on [its] engagement towards a lasting peace based on a two-state solution.”

Netanyahu said the international community remains quiet when Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “incites to the murder of Jews in Jerusalem,” but strongly condemns Israel when it builds in Jerusalem.

“I don't accept that double standard,” he said. “We built in Jerusalem, we build in Jerusalem, and we will continue to build in Jerusalem.”

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, meanwhile, decried the move in an Israel Radio interview, saying these types of steps will make it more difficult for Israel to thwart Palestinian efforts in the UN Security Council .

Livni said while she feels that Israel has the right to build in Jerusalem, these announcements not only hurt Israel diplomatically, but also worsen the volatile security situation in the capital.

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