Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shot back at the Obama administration’s criticism of planned Israeli construction in Jerusalem in an interview which aired Sunday on CBS’s Face the Nation. He charged that the White House’s rebuke of Israeli construction and Jewish home purchases in Jerusalem goes “against the American values.”
Netanyahu said he was “absolutely baffled” by the American condemnation, as he did not accept restrictions on where Jews could live, and that Jerusalem’s Arabs and Jews should be able to buy homes wherever they want.
“What we are 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,” he said, adding that the Jerusalem neighborhood in question is three minutes from his office.
“If somewhere in America someone said Jews cannot buy apartments here, there would be an uproar. I do not accept this.”
“It’s against the American values. And it doesn’t bode well for peace,” Netanyahu told CBS. “The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace.”
Last week, the Obama White House strongly criticized the publishing of tenders for the construction of 2,600 housing units intended for both Jewish and Arab residents in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood of southern Jerusalem that were approved in December 2012, saying they would distance Israel from “even its closest allies.”
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki criticized the decision in unusually harsh language. She said the construction would send a “troubling message” and added the construction would “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.”
In the same interview, Netanyahu warned that ISIS, Hamas, and Iran are locked in a competition to become the dominant Islamist power in the Middle East, which threatens both the United States and Israel.
“ISIS has got to be defeated because it’s doing what all these militant Islamists are trying to do. They all want to first dominate their part of the Middle East, and then go on for their twisted idea of world domination,” he said.
The Israeli Prime Minister also warned in the interview about what he believes are the dangers of making a bad deal on nuclear capabilities with Iran.
“This is the greatest terrorist regime in the world. And we don’t want them to have the ultimate weapon of terror, which is nuclear weapons,” Netanyahu said, adding, “My fear is that they would get the ability to enrich enough uranium for a bomb in a very short time–weeks, months–and that’s the deal that I hope is not signed.”