Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday lashed out at international condemnation of plans to build new housing in East Jerusalem, saying the criticism, and not the building, was pushing peace further away.
Netanyahu, speaking at Ashdod’s port, said blowback from the United States, Palestinians and others over an announcement a day earlier that planning could go ahead for about 1,000 housing units in East Jerusalem was “detached from reality.”
He added that he did not accept the outcry given international silence on Palestinian incitement.
“We have built in Jerusalem, we are building in Jerusalem and we will continue to build in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office. “I have heard a claim that our construction in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem makes peace more distant. It is the criticism which is making peace more distant. These words are detached from reality. They foster false statements among the Palestinians.”
On Monday, Netanyahu gave the go-ahead for some 600 homes in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and another 400 in Har Homa, both Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem over the Green Line.
Speaking at the Knesset later Monday, the prime minister vowed to continue building in the capital.
“The French build in Paris, the English build in London, the Israelis build in Jerusalem. Should we tell Jews not to live in Jerusalem because it will stir things up?” he said.
The announcement drew harsh criticism from the US, EU, Jordan and the Palestinians.
Israelis’ continued building across the Green Line is “incompatible with their stated desire to live in a peaceful society,” State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Monday.
Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said the move represented a “huge slap in the face of efforts taken to restart Palestinian-Israeli negotiations aimed at the incarnation of a two-state solution based on well-known international references and the Arab Peace Initiative,” according to Kuwaiti news agency KUNA.
Amman also requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council at the behest of the Palestinians.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned the new construction would spur Ramallah to continue its statehood drive.
On Tuesday, Netanyahu said the world’s criticism represented a “double standard.”
“When Abbas incites murders of Jews, the [international] community is silent, but when we build in Jerusalem, for that they jump up,” he said.
“I think we all need to reject this. It’s not true, it’s not right and it goes against any concept of peace.”
Netanyahu last week blamed Palestinians incitement for an attack in which a driver rammed his car into a crowd of people at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing two.
The building announcement also drew internal criticism, with ministers warning it could harm ties with Washington, considered Israel’s most important ally.