After the US administration asked for ‘clarification’ of Israel’s plan to expand settler housing in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, the Israeli government responded with another bold announcement of a settlement expansion which some Israeli politicians say “spits in the eye” of the Obama administration.The latest announcement by the Israeli government comes on top of an announcement earlier this month that it would approve plans to build 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, which raised a slight objection by the Obama administration.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was in Washington DC this week for the annual conference of the largest Zionist lobbying group in the US, the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee. He encouraged the lobbying group to continue to push the US Congress to support Israel unquestioningly, including Israel’s policy of expanding illegal settlements on Palestinian land.
After rallying support from US Zionists for the Israeli expansion plan, Netanyahu met briefly Tuesday with US President Barack Obama. Despite media claims that Obama rebuffed the Israeli Prime Minister during that meeting, the Israeli leader followed his meeting with the US President with an announcement of further settlement expansion.
Israeli Knesset Member Eitan Cabel, with the Labor Party, told the Associated Press, ‘Netanyahu decided to spit into Obama’s eye, this time from up close. He and his pyromaniac ministers insist on setting the Middle East ablaze.’
The head of the United Nations, Ban ki-Moon, also criticized the move.