Washington calls Netanyahu’s ethnic cleansing video ‘inappropriate’
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Washington calls Netanyahu’s ethnic cleansing video ‘inappropriate’

State Department in 'direct conversations' with Israeli government over prime minister's clip released Friday

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, Italy, June 27, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Rome, Italy, June 27, 2016. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Washington on Friday fumed at comments made by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video released online in which he accused the Palestinians of advocating ethnic cleansing of the Jewish population in the West Bank.

US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau told reporters the administration is “engaging in direct conversations with the Israeli government” about the video.

“We obviously strongly disagree with the characterization that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank. We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” Trudeau said.

She said Israel expansion of settlements raises “real questions about Israel’s long-term intentions in the West Bank.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a clip posted on Facebook on Friday, September 9 2016 (Screen capture Facebook)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a clip posted on Facebook on Friday, September 9 2016 (Screen capture Facebook)

Netanyahu on Friday decried what he said was the world’s silence on the issue.

Speaking in English in a video message posted on his Facebook page, Netanyahu asked whether people in other parts of the world would accept such demands in their own countries.

It’s “outrageous that the world doesn’t find it outrageous,” Netanyahu said, urging viewers to ask themselves whether they would accept “a territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without blacks” in their nation.

“Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?” he asked.

I'm sure many of you have heard the claim that Jewish communities in Judea Samaria, the West Bank, are an obstacle to peace.I've always been perplexed by this notion.Because no one would seriously claim that the nearly two million Arabs living inside Israel – that they're an obstacle to peace. That's because they aren't. On the contrary.Israel's diversity shows its openness and readiness for peace. Yet the Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.There's a phrase for that: It's called ethnic cleansing.And this demand is outrageous.It's even more outrageous that the world doesn't find this outrageous. Some otherwise enlightened countries even promote this outrage.Ask yourself this: Would you accept ethnic cleansing in your state? A territory without Jews, without Hispanics, without blacks?Since when is bigotry a foundation for peace?At this moment, Jewish schoolchildren in Judea Samaria are playing in sandboxes with their friends.Does their presence make peace impossible?I don’t think so.I think what makes peace impossible is intolerance of others. Societies that respect all people are the ones that pursue peace. Societies that demand ethnic cleansing don't pursue peace.I envision a Middle East where young Arabs and young Jews learn together, work together, live together side by side in peace.Our region needs more tolerance, not less.So the next time you hear someone say Jews can't live somewhere, let alone in their ancestral homeland, take a moment to think of the implications.Ethnic cleansing for peace is absurd.It's about time somebody said it.I just did.

Posted by ‎Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו‎ on piektdiena, 2016. gada 9. septembris

“At this moment, Jewish schoolchildren in Judea [and] Samaria are playing in sandboxes with their friends,” he said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical Hebrew name. “Does their presence make peace impossible? I don’t think so.”

He said he envisioned a Middle East “where young Arabs and young Jews learn together, work together, live together side by side in peace.”

Netanyahu also faced criticism over his remarks by Israeli opposition lawmakers, who rebuked the prime minister for rejecting the notion that West Bank settlements were “an obstacle to peace.”

Zionist Union MK Tzipi Livni on Saturday accused Netanyahu of “trying to make political gains while creating diplomatic damage.”

She said the video had caused the US position to change from accepting settlement blocs to rejecting the entire West Bank enterprise.

Zionist Union member Tzipi Livni addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Question Time, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)
Zionist Union member Tzipi Livni addresses a question to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during Question Time, July 18, 2016. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

“After Netanyahu’s video, the US is saying that all the settlements, including the blocs, are an obstacle, whereas in the past they were recognized,” she said in remarks relayed by a spokesman.

Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Joint (Arab) List, accused Netanyahu of creating “an imaginary reality” and rejected the comparison between Israeli Arabs and Jewish West Bank settlers, who he said implement a policy of “ethnic cleansing.”

“Netanyahu doesn’t care that it is the settlements that were established precisely in order to cruelly expel Palestinian populaces from the West Bank to limited territories around the major cities,” he wrote on Facebook.

Israel began building settlements in the West Bank after it captured the territory, previously controlled by Jordan, in the 1967 Six Day War. Today, over 250,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements and outposts.

The settlements are seen as an impediment by proponents of the two-state solution, which would see a Palestinian state alongside Israel in most of the West Bank and all of Gaza. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005, dismantling all its settlements there, while some of the West Bank settlements would potentially remain under Israel control as part of a territorial exchange under a final peace agreement.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visits Israeli students in the Israeli settlement of Susya, on their first day of school. September 1, 2016. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman visits Israeli students in the Israeli settlement of Susya, on their first day of school. September 1, 2016. (Ariel Hermoni/Ministry of Defense)

Netanyahu’s video garnered 45,000 views and more than 4,300 “likes” within the first three hours of publication. It is the latest in a series of viral attempts in which the prime minister talks directly to the camera, speaking, usually in English, about a current affairs issue. The prime minister is known for his fluent, almost unaccented English, which he perfected during his years of study in the US.

In the first such video, which came after June’s deadly nightclub shooting in Orlando, Netanyahu called on the international community to stand together with the LGBT community, saying that the attack was not an isolated incident and slamming homophobic practices carried out by Islamic terrorist groups and countries across the Middle East.

Since then, the prime minister has made videos about a terrorist attack in the West Bank town of Kiryat Arba in which 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death, Jerusalem’s gay pride rally, steps for peace for Abbas, a new government program to fund development in the Arab community, and a Palestinian father telling Israeli soldiers to shoot his own son. Last month, he released a video in which he claimed Israel cares more about the Palestinian people than their own leaders.

I'm going to say something now that some of you will not believe. But I'm going to say it anyway because it's true.I, the Prime Minister of Israel, care more about Palestinians than their own leaders do. Israel cares more about Palestinians than their own leaders do.That sounds incredible, right?But consider the following:A few days ago, the world learned that Hamas, the terrorist organization that rules Gaza, stole millions of dollars from humanitarian organizations like World Vision and the United Nations.Innocent and impoverished Palestinians were denied vital aid supplied from nations around the world.Hamas used this stolen money to build a war machine to murder Jews.I want you to think about that. Let that sink in.Hamas stole critical support for Palestinian children so that they could kill our children.So I ask you—who cares more about Palestinians?Israel, that facilitates the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza, every single day?Or Hamas, that robs Palestinian children of that very same aid?Israel, that treats wounded Palestinians from Gaza in its hospitals?Or Hamas that prevents injured Palestinians from getting help?Imagine, just imagine, where we might all be if Palestinian leaders cared as much about helping their own people as they did about hurting our people. The Palestinian people deserve better.And today, I express my deepest sympathy with innocent Palestinians and those well-meaning nations who generously donated money to help them.The cynicism and cruelty of Hamas is hurting all of us.It's hurting peace.

Posted by ‎Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו‎ on ceturtdiena, 2016. gada 11. Augusts

The videos, some of which have also been released in Hebrew, have received over 40 million views in total.

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