The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized the Obama Administration for its criticism of an Israeli announcement approving tenders for the construction of 300 new homes in Ramot, a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem. At the same time, it has ignored the on-going illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, which is also proceeding at a far higher rate. A White House official responded to the news by stating, “We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement construction, which undermines efforts to achieve peace and are contrary to the obligations that Israel undertook upon itself. It is the President’s opinion that Israel should recognize that the settlement policy is not conducive to achieving peace and hampers the Palestinians chances of establishing a state on sustainable borders … In our opinion, the two sides must take confidence-building measures, which will make it possible to resume negotiations” (Elad Benari, ‘Israel to Build in Jerusalem, U.S. Angry,’ Israel National News, May 30, 2013).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are deeply critical of the Obama Administration yet again criticizing Israel for building homes for Jews in its capital city.
“The Obama Administration falsely claims that building in Jerusalem is contrary to obligations Israel has undertaken. At no time has any government of Israel agreed to terminate or restrict the rights of its citizens to build in Jerusalem. The Obama Administration should immediately acknowledge and retract this false statement.
“Last week, Secretary of State John Kerry urged both sides to avoid ‘provocative’ acts. I should have thought that murdering civilians or inciting one’s people to hate and kill civilians on the other side was provocation. It is only Mahmoud Abbas’ Palestinian Authority (PA) which does this, not Israel.
“Jewish construction poses no ‘provocation’ to anyone except those who deny Jews the right to live and thrive in their Biblical, historical and legal capital. Such construction does not ‘undermine’ Secretary Kerry’s mission – unless that mission be to support Palestinians in their war of denial of Jewish history and rights in Israel in general and Jerusalem in particular.
“The Obama Administration has an unsavory record of joining the PA in its efforts to prevent the normal exercise of Jewish rights and sovereignty in Jerusalem and in provoking recurrent crises on the subject.
“In 2009, Israel acceded to pressure from the Obama Administration to institute an ‘unprecedented’ (former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s correct description) 10-month freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria in a bid to entice Palestinians to the negotiating table. It didn’t work. Mahmoud Abbas and the PA refused to negotiate until literally the last days of this 10-month freeze. Since then, they have refused to negotiate with Israel, despite Israel’s repeated willingness to negotiate without preconditions.
“President Obama gave Israel no credit for this freeze. In fact, he said falsely in an interview that Israel hadn’t made any ‘bold gestures’ while making excuses for the Palestinians. Moreover, despite the fact that Israel’s 10-month freeze explicitly excluded eastern Jerusalem from its ambit, his Administration ‘condemned’ Jewish construction in Jerusalem – a harsh censure never usually used in respect of an American ally.
“The ZOA has no confidence in the PA as an alleged peace-partner of Israel. As we have pointed out innumerable times, the PA has not fulfilled its Oslo commitments to end terrorism and the incitement to hatred and murder that feeds it. It denies Jewish history, glorifies terrorists and seeks to delegitimize Israel abroad – scarcely the acts of a peace partner. But if anything has stood in the way of negotiations between Israel and the PA that the Obama Administration claims would bring peace, it has been its own insistence on demanding an end to Jewish construction in Jerusalem and thus providing the PA with a pretext for not negotiating with Israel until this happens – something that never previously occurred in all the years since the 1993 Oslo Agreement.
“If the Obama Administration wants to bring peace, it should be applying pressure where it belongs – on the PA to fulfill its agreements and accept Israel as Jewish state, not on Israel over its legitimate plans for providing housing for Jews in Jerusalem.”