Crowley chides PM's statements on J'lem building

State Dept. responds to earlier PMO statement denying "any connection between the peace process, construction in J'lem,"; PMO responds to Obama criticism, "J'lem is not a settlement, it is the capital of Israel."

November 9, 2010 23:37
2 minute read.
US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

pj crowley 311. (photo credit: AP)

In what has become a tit-for-tat of public statements, US State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley on Tuesday said of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's most recent statement, that "to suggest that this kind of announcement would not have an impact on the Palestinian side I think is incorrect," AFP reported.

Responding to a Prime Minister's Office declaration that "Israel does not see any connection between the peace process and the policy of planning and construction in Jerusalem," Crowley retorted, "there clearly is a link in the sense that it is incumbent upon both parties... they are responsible for creating conditions for a successful negotiation," according to the report.

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Slightly softening his rhetoric, the State Department spokesman said the US does understand "that Israel has its own position," but called Israel's most recent statements "counterproductive."

Earlier Tuesday, the PMO released a statement saying, "Jerusalem is not a settlement, it is the capital of Israel," in a sharp retort to international criticism about plans for 1,345 homes in Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem.

The government never agreed to place any restrictions on construction in Jerusalem, which has 800,000 residents, the PMO said in a statement it issued while Netanyahu was in New York.

Although much of the international community equates construction in east Jerusalem with that of West Bank settlements, Israel makes a sharp distinction between the two.

From November 2009 to September 2010 Israel halted new settlement construction in the West Bank, but during that time it continued to issue new tenders for building in east Jerusalem, which it considers part of its united capital.

"Israel does not see any connection between the peace process and the policy of planning and construction in Jerusalem, which has not changed in 40 years. For the last 40 years every Israeli government built in every part of the city. During that period peace agreements were signed with Egypt and Jordan and for 17 years direct negotiations were held with the Palestinians. These are historical facts. Construction in Jerusalem has never interfered with the peace process," the office said.

For the last 40 years Israel and the US have disagreed over the status of east Jerusalem, said the Prime Minister's Office, which added that it hoped to over come these differences and to stay focused on the peace process.

It added that Netanyahu was hopeful that his meeting Thursday with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton would advance the peace process."

Earlier on Tuesday US President Barack Obama criticized Israel at a news conference in Indonesia and said "this kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations."

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