TPS – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded on Wednesday to the US State Department’s criticism of Israel’s decision to build new Jewish homes in regions of Jerusalem that Israel captured during the Six Day War in 1967, as well in the town of Maale Adumim, east of Jerusalem.
“We know the American position,” Netanyahu said during a press conference in Rwanda’s capital city of Kigali with Rwandan President Paul Kagame. “It is not new, and it is not acceptable to us either.”
Netanyahu was referring to US State Department spokesperson John Kirby’s criticism of Israel’s decision to build approximately 800 new housing units in Jewish areas of Yehudah and Shomron, as well as in Jerusalem.
“If it’s true, this report would be the latest step in what seems to be the systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions and legalization of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution,” Kirby said. “We oppose steps like these, which we believe are counterproductive to the cause of peace.”
Netanyahu also approved 600 new Palestinian housing units in southern Jerusalem, raising the concerns of Education Minister and Ha’bayit Ha’yhudi chairman Naftali Bennett.
“Arab construction without Israeli construction in Givat Hamatos will create [Palestinian] territorial continuity all the way to the Malha mall,” Minister Bennett said at a conference held on Monday by the Yesha Council, which represents the Jewish communities of Yehudah and Shomron. “It will create de facto division in the city and a Palestinian buffer in Jerusalem.
“I urge the prime minister not to allow Palestinian construction only, and I trust that he will permit Israeli construction as well,” Bennett said.
During the press conference in Kigali, Netanyahu said that the roadblock to peace was Palestinian incitement against Israel, not new housing units in Jewish areas in Jerusalem and in Yehudah and Shomron.
“Construction in Jerusalem and Maale Adumim, with all due respect, is not what prevents peace,” Netanyahu said. “What prevents peace, first and foremost, is the constant incitement against the State of Israel’s existence within any border at all, and the time has come for all the nations of the world to recognize this simple truth.”
Netanyahu added that the Palestinian Authority’s continued objection to direct talks with Israel also hindered the prospects of peace.
“We are ready at all times to conduct direct talks, without conditions, with our neighbors, but they are not prepared to conduct them with us,” Netanyahu said. “These are the two things that are preventing peace.”
Prime Minister Netanyahu visited Rwanda as part of his tour of Africa this week. While in the country, he paid his respects at the Kigali Genocide Memorial of the Rwandan genocide in 1994.