(photo credit: REUTERS)
With the media buzzing over a possible crisis between Jerusalem and Washington amid sharpened US rhetoric – it seems no one is staying out of the fray.
After the Prime Minister's Office put forward plans to build over a thousand housing units in east Jerusalem, a move which has sparked a series of condemnations from world powers, including the US, President Reuven Rivlin is the latest to weigh in on the issue.
In an interview with Army Radio on Wednesday, Israel's tenth president made a distinction between building for the purpose of incitement and lawfully settling one's country. "If construction is done to get even" with terrorists – it is wrong, he said, noting that construction is "not a provocation."
Rivlin made clear that the newly-authorized building plans in Ramot Shlomo and Har Homa were in areas "we will never desert."
As for tensions with the Obama administration in light of reports that US officials complained
about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's policies vis-a-vis Iran, the Palestinians, and settlement expansion, Rivlin said relations with Washington were paramount in forming policy, or as he put it: "Three principles bind Israel's foreign policy: the first, is US ties; the second – US ties; the third, which is no less important, is US ties."
Even as State Department officials voiced concern
about the possible consequences of building beyond the 1967 lines, seen by the Palestinians as borders of a future state, the president said that America understood the capital's status: "We built Jerusalem and it will continue to be inhabited throughout the entirety of the city."
Rivlin gave the interview from Poland, where he is on an official state visit, his first time abroad since taking office in July. He was invited by President Bronislaw Komorowski for the opening of an exhibit at the Polin Museum, formerly known as the Museum of the History of Polish Jews.