WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration warned Israel on Wednesday that plans for a controversial new housing project in east Jerusalem would distance Israel from “even its closest allies” and raise questions about its commitment to seeking peace with Palestinians.
President Barack Obama meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
The strikingly sharp criticism from the White House and State Department came just hours after President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House. Obama spokesman Josh Earnest said the president raised his concerns about the construction project with Netanyahu privately, though the two leaders made no mention of the matter in their comments to reporters.
“This development will only draw condemnation from the international community,” Earnest said. “It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
The new 2,500-unit project is contentious because it would complete a band of Jewish areas that separate Jerusalem from nearby Bethlehem.