Israel 'fed up' with US settlement demands

Monday, June 29, 2009 |  Israel Today Staff

A senior Israeli government official cited by the Hebrew daily Israel Hayom on Monday said that Jerusalem is becoming "fed up" with the Obama Administration's exaggerated focus on the construction of Jewish homes in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem.

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of late have become almost hostile when demanding that Israel halt the growth of Jewish neighborhoods in any areas claimed by the Palestinian areas.

Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, have responded by saying they cannot simply freeze the normal flow of life in these areas.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak flew to Washington on Monday in an effort to calm the tension.

The official who spoke to Israel Hayom said Barak will impress upon the Americans that Israel is ready to consider a construction freeze in Jewish settlements, but only if it is part of a larger agreement under which Washington will later publicly back the growth and inclusion inside Israel's recognized borders of certain larger settlement blocs.

In the meantime, construction in these areas continues, and Israeli Minister of Intelligence Dan Meridor noted that contrary to the statements by Obama and Clinton, that is not a violation of Israel's peace commitments.

Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Meridor recalled that when Israel accepted the US-authored Road Map peace plan, it did so with 14 attached reservations. Those reservations were acknowledged by the administration of former President George W. Bush, and Israel was provided with verbal guarantees that its commitments would not impede the normal flow of life in Jewish towns.

Meridor rejected the Obama Administration's position that because they agreements were not written down and signed they no longer bear any weight.

"We never had a deal with the Republican administration; we had an agreement with the United States," said Meridor. "These understandings were a part of the agreement. Its written part and its oral part compliment each other."

The agreement between Israel and the Bush Administration allowed for the ongoing construction of new homes within the existing boundaries of Jewish towns and neighborhoods in Judea and Samaria, so long as Israel did not extend those boundaries or build entirely new settlements.

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