Ethnic purification in Jerusalem?
That term was used by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in responding to reporters after the Obama White House slammed the idea of new housing construction in Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish state. The Obama Administration refuses to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and Obama insists on locating the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, ignoring Israel’s objections and an act of the United States Congress.
A former commando in the Israeli Defense Forces, who previously held various ministerial positions in the country’s government, Netanyahu is the leader of the center-right Likud coalition in the the country’s parliament known as the Knesset.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, dramatically sharp criticism from the White House and State Department came just hours after President Barack Obama and Netanyahu met in person last week. While making the rounds of U.S. news outlets after his United Nations speech and before he returned to Israel, the prime minister admitted that he was baffled by the fulmination against his country. U.S. officials claim that new construction will undermine peace negotiations with the Palestinians and alienate the international community.
There has been much reporting/speculation in the mainstream media that behind the scenes, Obama and Netanyahu aren’t exactly BFFs.
According to White House Press Secretary Josh Ernest, in addition to the project in East Jerusalem, planned new construction in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood in the southern part of the city is “contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians. 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.”
It is perhaps unprecedented for the international community to try to dictate where citizens of a sovereign nation can live. Moreover, as distinguished from the surrounding countries, Israel is the only multicultural democracy (imperfect as it is, just like the U.S.) in the Middle East where residents can freely practice their own religion or no religion.
In an appearance with Bob Schieffer on CBS Face the Nation that was taped Thursday but broadcast yesterday, Netanyahu addressed the issue of White House disapproval of the new settlements. He noted that “settlements” is a misnomer; what is at issue is 2400 apartment units, 700 of which are designated for Arab citizens, located about three minutes from his own government office in the city.
In pushing back against objections to Jews moving into predominately Arab neighborhoods, the PM rhetorically asked “why can’t Jews and Arabs live together?”
“I was baffled by [the White House] statement, because it doesn’t reflect American values. What we’re being criticized for is that some Jewish residents of Jerusalem bought apartments legally from Arabs in a predominantly Arab neighborhood, and this is seen as a terrible thing.”
“Arabs in East Jerusalem, Palestinians, buy apartments, thousands of them, in the Jewish neighborhoods in West Jerusalem. Nobody says ‘you can’t do it.’ If I said to you, in some place in the United States, ‘Jews cannot buy apartments here,’ there would be an uproar. I don’t accept this thing. Jews can buy private homes in Arab neighborhoods, Arabs can buy private homes in Jewish neighborhoods. It’s their right.”
“…It doesn’t bode well for peace. The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition of peace — I think it is anti-peace; it works against peace…“
Concluded Netanyahu: “I think actually this whole line that says that ‘Jews can’t buy apartments in Jerusalem,’ the capital of the Jewish people for the last 3,000 years since King David, or ‘you cannot have mixed housing projects for Jews and Arabs,’ I think this is anti-peace…”
Netanyahu similarly told Univision, “If you said to me that in some city in the United States or in Mexico, or anywhere else, Jews cannot buy apartments, there would be an uproar. You know, there’s not only the freedom of property, but the right of every individual to live where they want, as long as they purchase the apartment legally and don’t expropriate, don’t take over, which isn’t the case here. This was a free transaction… It flies in the face of American values, and it flies in the face of common sense.”
In a speech at the United Nations in New York last Monday (see highlights below) in which he addressed the double standard applied to his country as opposed to its foes, most recently evidenced by the conflict in Gaza, Netanyahu, among things, insisted that Hamas and ISIS are “branches of the same poisonous tree.” He also deemed the Israel-obsessed U.N. Human Rights Council as a “terrorist rights council.”
Do you agree or disagree that there may be an attempt to engage in ethnic purification (which appears to convey the same meaning as ethnic cleansing) in Jerusalem? Are you surprised that Obama, who repeatedly stated he supported an undivided Jerusalem as part of the Jewish state of Israel when he ran for President in 2008, is now trying to divide Jerusalem?
[top image via Bing]