October 3, 2014
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed strong criticism of President Barack Obama for disgracefully threatening Israel with isolation and perhaps even a rupture in the U.S./Israel relationship by stating that Israel’s decision to build 2,500 apartments in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem “distance Israel from even its closest allies.”
Reacting to the publication of the construction program, which was already approved by the Jerusalem Municipality two years ago, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “The United States is deeply concerned by reports that the Israeli government has moved forward with the planning process in a sensitive area of east Jerusalem. This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere, not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations” (‘PM to US: Get your facts right on Jerusalem construction,’ Israel Hayom, October 2, 2014).
In addition to echoing this criticism, State Department spokeswoman Jan Psaki said that the Israeli move would “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful, negotiated settlement with the Palestinians” (‘Carol Morello & William Booth, ‘White House: Israel faces estrangement from allies if settlement building proceeds,’ Washington Post, October 1, 2014).
The ZOA has pointed out that, only days before Obama’s latest stern criticism and threatening of Israel over this housing project, PA president Mahmoud Abbas delivered a vicious, lie-filled attack on Israel in his UN speech. Although the Administration rightly criticized this speech –– one of the rare occasions it has ever criticized Abbas –– the ZOA doesn’t recall the Obama Administration saying that this genuinely anti-peace act would ‘distance’ Abbas and the PA ‘from even its closest allies’ as Obama threatened Israel.
The ZOA has also pointed out that:
- Abbas has refused to negotiate with Israel for almost all of the past five and a half years, yet Obama has not condemned Abbas or the PA, or threatened it with isolation.
- When in June 2014, Abbas and the Fatah/PA formed a unity government with the terrorist group Hamas, which calls in its Charter for the global murder of Jews (Article 7) and the destruction of Israel (Article 15), Obama did not condemn Abbas or the PA, or threaten it with isolation –– he said that he would continue to financially aid the PA. Indeed, he sent $47 million in aid to Hamas-controlled Gaza.
- In March 2014, Abbas also told Obama that there could be no compromise on what Palestinians call the “right of return” — the repatriation to Israel, rather than to a Palestinian state, of the Palestinian refugees of the 1948-49 war and their millions of descendants. He also repudiated the idea that a signed peace settlement with Israel would mark an end to further claims and conflict –– Obama did not condemn Abbas or the PA, or threaten it with isolation.
- When in May 2011, Abbas made a vicious UN speech rewriting the history of the conflict to malign Israel as the aggressor and war criminal and foreshadowing that even a peace agreement would not stop the PA from continuing to harm Israel, Obama did not condemn Abbas or the PA, or threaten it with isolation.
- In March 2011, five members of the Fogel family, including three children, were murdered in their beds, their throats slit, by Palestinian terrorists. The PA was not held to account. A few days later, the PA held a ceremony to name another public square after the terrorist Mughrabi. It took four days before a minor State Department official condemned the event and urged PA officials to “address it” –– Obama did not condemn Abbas or the PA, or threaten it with isolation.
- In March 2010, the Palestinian Authority (PA) named a public square in Ramallah in honor of blood-soaked terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, Obama did not condemn Abbas or the PA, or threaten it with isolation –– but condemned Israel for announcing a program of building Jewish homes in eastern Jerusalem the day before.
- In January 2010 when terrorists from Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a recognized terrorist group, murdered an Israeli, Rabbi Meir Chai, in a drive-by shooting and Abbas himself sent condolences to the families of the three terrorists subsequently killed by Israeli forces, Obama did not condemn Abbas or the PA, or threaten it with isolation, even when specifically informed of these events by the Israeli government.
- The 1995 Jerusalem Act recognizes Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel, which President Obama continues to ignore.
The Obama Administration’s position has been criticized by U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R–FL), a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, who said that, “We are witnessing a terrifying rise of Islamic jihadist groups, the advance of the Russian bear, an Ebola breakout, and the prolonged imprisonment of a U.S. Marine in Mexico, yet the Obama administration rebukes Israel for building in its own capital city of Jerusalem. The U.S. government should stop meddling in internal Israeli affairs. Israel is more committed to peace than anyone in the region. U.S. policy should not view Israel as the problem but should instead recognize that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of the Jewish state” (‘DeSantis: Stop Scapegoating Israel over Jerusalem,’ press release, October 2, 2014).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We repudiate the Obama Administration’s outrageous and offensive threats to Israel for doing nothing more than announcing a program of municipal construction in its own capital city, as though this posed any kind of threat to the peace. Even if one were to accept the false, alarmist claim that Israel building homes for Jews somehow endangers the peace, this particular building program is to occur in a part of Jerusalem that, under any remotely feasible peace plan, would remain part of Israel and is therefore really not at issue at all.
“Peace is presently impossible due to continuing Palestinian refusal to accept the permanence and legitimacy of the Jewish state of Israel and the terrorism, aggression and incitement to hatred and murder against Jews and Israel that flows from this –– not due to Israel announcing construction of homes in Jerusalem.
“Israel has made no agreement, and is under no obligation, to desist from building apartments for its citizens anywhere in Jerusalem.
“As we have shown, there is an Obama Administration pattern of anti-Israel bias and selective blindness to and toleration of Palestinian pro-terror, anti-peace acts.
“President Obama seems to think that Jews building homes is a greater threat to peace than Palestinian terrorism and its glorification. And he’s even willing to threaten Israel about it, while calling Abbas and the PA ‘peace-makers.’
“This is not the behavior of an ally.
“In fact, the claim I made years ago has been repeatedly validated by President Obama –– that claim was and is that President Obama is the most hostile president to Israel ever.”