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White House is now in open spat with Netanyahu over his ‘American values’ lecture

on 32 Comments

From the White House briefing yesterday. Josh Earnest made clear that Netanyahu is trying to pull a fast one, blessing East Jerusalem settlements as somehow epitomizing “American values” of open housing. The Obama administration seems to understand for once that it has the upper hand with this man. Notice how Earnest out-Hebrews the P.M. on Givat Hamatos:

Question: The Israeli Prime Minister pushed back against some of your comments from the podium last week on settlements, saying that that criticism goes “against American values.”  I was wondering if you have any response to that.

JOSH EARNEST:  Well, I did see the Prime Minister’s remarks, and it did seem odd for him to try to defend the actions of his government by saying that our response did not reflect American values.  The fact is, American policy has been clear and unchanged under several administrations, both Democrat and Republican.  We oppose any unilateral actions that attempt to prejudge final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem. These can only be legitimately determined through direct negotiations between the parties that this President has worked hard to try to facilitate.

We would also note that the Prime Minister appeared only to be addressing our concerns about Silwan, and seemed to ignore our concern over reports that the Israeli government had moved forward the planning process in the sensitive area of Givat Hamatos in east Jerusalem.  That action is contrary to Israel’s stated goal of negotiating a permanent status agreement with the Palestinians, and it would send a very troubling message if they were to proceed with tenders or construction.

Netanyahu is getting a reputation for playing fast and loose. He said that Givat Hamatos is in South Jerusalem, last week.

Netanyahu: They’re not in East Jerusalem, they’re in South Jerusalem actually, and they include 700 units for Arab residents of Jerusalem. That’s a little fact that hasn’t gotten any press.

[NPR’s Steve] Inskeep: We are talking about east of the 1967 line.

Netanyahu: Sure. Of course…

Inskeep: So when you say South Jerusalem, it’s former East Jerusalem.

Earnest also lectured the Prime Minister about “American values.”

The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel.  It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways.  It’s American values that have led us to fund and build an Iron Dome system that has protected the lives of countless innocent Israeli citizens.  It’s American values that have led the United States to fully support Israel’s right to defend itself.  And it’s American values that have led us to defend Israel in a variety of international forums, including a variety of United Nations forums.

So it’s clear how American values dictate or at least guide our thinking when it comes to our unwavering support for the nation of Israel.

Well at least he avoided the “Jewish state” formulation.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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32 Responses

  1. just on October 7, 2014, 10:38 am

    May the ‘spat’ escalate.

    In public.

    • Krauss on October 7, 2014, 2:45 pm

      Well, if the “spat” consists of Earnest bending over backwards to try to show how supportive the administration has been of Israel, count me as bored.

      By the way, I’m surprised that people haven’t pointed out the obvious: midterm elections. Obama can’t go hard on Bibi because he needs the donors. The democrats could easily lose the senate, which Netanyahu is aware of, and Obama needs every last dollar to his candidates. If Obama spends the next two years with BOTH the house and the senate in GOP hands, he is in effect a lame duck president extraordinaire.

      It’ll be interesting to see how Obama acts after the midterms, and if the dems keep the senate(which is certainly possible, perhaps even probable, right now). He’s scott-free of elections ahead of him and that would theoretically be the time to turn the screws on Bibi.

      I doubt he’ll go so hard, though, Obama surely keeps an eye on his post-presidential career. He can’t alienate the establishment if he wants to earn the big bucks on the speaker circuit, like Clinton has done.

      • Keith on October 7, 2014, 5:51 pm

        KRAUSS- “The democrats could easily lose the senate…”

        The Democrats will probably lose the Senate, which will provide Obama with the triangulation excuses he needs to ratchet up his warmongering and neoliberal austerity. These next two years are likely to be an unmitigated disaster for the American people and the world as the empire consumates its current agenda.

    • Marnie on October 8, 2014, 4:24 am

      Amen to that!

      • Miriam on October 10, 2014, 3:29 pm

        Re “war mongering” & neolib or anyone else’s Austerity……racheting up ….i’ve bitten my nails down to the stumps just considering what might lie ahead with the next maroon in the WH, who ever that might be….Hillary? Jeb? Mitt? they are all disgusting and cause ceaseless angst…woe unto the planet and all life therein.!!

  2. eljay on October 7, 2014, 10:42 am

    >> JOSH EARNEST: Well, I did see the Prime Minister’s remarks, and it did seem odd for him to try to defend the actions of his government by saying that our response did not reflect American values.

    It’s not odd at all. For decades, American values – according to Mr. Earnest – have “unwaveringly supported” Israel’s militarization, its on-going occupation and colonization of Palestine, its intransigence and its supremacist “Jewish State” status. There’s no good reason for these same American values to suddenly oppose settlement expansion.

  3. ckg on October 7, 2014, 10:44 am

    I am struck by how similar the Earnest’s phrasing and choice of words is to that of Psaki’s responding to Matt Lee yesterday. They must be memorizing a script.

    QUESTION: Prime Minister Netanyahu over the weekend talking about how the criticism of his country, or at least of his government, is – conflicts with American values. What’s your response to that?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, American policy has been clear and unchanged under several administrations, both Democratic and Republican: We oppose any unilateral actions that attempt to prejudge final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem. These can only be legitimately determined through direct negotiation between the parties. So I have to say it was a bit odd to use American values when clearly we’ve had a consistent view and a consistent position on this particular issue.

  4. pabelmont on October 7, 2014, 10:59 am

    “It’s American values that have led us to fund and build an Iron Dome system that has protected the lives of countless innocent Israeli citizens.”

    This formulation seems to acknowledge that there are non-innocent Israeli citizens. May we hear more about this, please? (Or are they ALL innocent, perhaps, in this administration’s view?)

    • catporn on October 8, 2014, 10:28 am

      This formulation seems to acknowledge that there are non-innocent Israeli citizens.
      Good catch!

  5. David Doppler on October 7, 2014, 11:19 am

    The talking points are entirely defensive – look at what our American values do to support Israel. So, come on, please, Mr. Prime Minister, Sir, please stop criticizing us when we have your back, or we’ll be even more anguished than we already are!

    Where are the consequences?

  6. MHughes976 on October 7, 2014, 12:11 pm

    One of the friendliest spats I’ve seen, though the friendliness is a little one-sided. Obama seems to have perfected a technique for wrapping massive support in a film of rather willfully ineffectual protest.

    • American on October 7, 2014, 12:52 pm

      Ditto

      “Earnest also lectured the Prime Minister about “American values.”

      ” The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel. It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways. It’s American values that have led us to fund and build an Iron Dome system that has protected the lives of countless innocent Israeli citizens. It’s American values that have led the United States to fully support Israel’s right to defend itself. And it’s American values that have led us to defend Israel in a variety of international forums, including a variety of United Nations forums”

      Vomit….

      Translated……”oh please dont talk to sugar daddy that way darling, we luv you, we let you steal and kill and lie and cheat and slap us in the face and now you’ve hurt our feelings…is there anything we havent given you sweetheart……just tell daddy what it is….and we’ll get it for you…..just dont say we dont value you more than anything on earth.”

  7. Kay24 on October 7, 2014, 1:14 pm

    The media should have mentioned this spat , and shown outrage that this arrogant man, representing a nation we prop up, support, arm and protect, against the world, can keep visiting the White House and insult us before and after his visit. Where is that outrage and news coverage? Instead we keep hearing all about Panetta’s silly book.
    If this does not prove that the media is controlled by you know who, then nothing will.

  8. Boomer on October 7, 2014, 1:30 pm

    A “spat” is something lovers have. From Mairav Zonszein at +972

    “The fact is that as “odd” as Netanyahu’s rhetoric is on the U.S. (not to mention actions such as endorsing Romney for president and meeting with Sheldon Adelson just before Obama last week) the U.S. comes out looking even odder. It on the one hand condemns settlement building over and over again, using as many different words as it can muster to express its disapproval, but it ultimately enables it because it has chosen not to take any concrete steps.

    “As a result, it is the number one enabler of Israel’s anti-peace policies. In this sense, Netanyahu actually exposed the gap between Israeli rhetoric and action, as well as the gap between American rhetoric and action. This was most apparent in the following statement by Earnest:

    ‘We oppose any unilateral actions that attempt to prejudge final status issues including the status of Jerusalem. These can only be legitimately determined through direct negotiations between the parties that this president has worked hard to try to facilitate.’

    “Israel has been unilaterally prejudging final status issues since 1967. The act of redefining the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem two weeks after the Six-Day War to expand its capital by 70 kilometers was the most definitive unilateral action it has taken – possibly ever.”

    from: http://972mag.com/israeli-settlements-u-s-policy-the-gap-between-values-and-actions/97442/

  9. John Douglas on October 7, 2014, 1:42 pm

    I’ve wondered for a while now whether anyone has ever tried to measure the effects, if any, of the practice of obvious hypocrisy by nation states. This comes into play here. Of course Netanyahu is just slinging his usual sh*t in this talk about American values. On the other hand, after Gitmo, waterboarding, overthrowing legitimate governments, destroying nations, torture, sending arms to Israel in the midst of the Gaza slaughter, the Cuban embargo, and so much more, does the U.S. have even a piece of leg to stand on from which to lecture the world about values, American or otherwise? If we extracted American values from American (foreign policy) practice, what would those values be? I for one would rather not say.

  10. gracie fr on October 7, 2014, 1:49 pm

    Givat Hamatos is the first planned neighborhood to be built across the Green Line since the construction of the neighborhood of Har Homah in 1997 (during the first Netanyahu administration). It completes the divide between Bethlehem and East Jerusalem and prevents any possibility of a significant diplomatic arrangement regarding the Arab Jerusalem neighborhoods of Beit Tzafafa and Sharafat.

    Lt. Col. (res.) Shaul Arieli, who was head of the Peace Administration in the Barak government and one of the formulators of the Geneva Initiative, told Al-Monitor this week, “Givat Hamatos is another stage in the historic Israeli plan to create an urban Jewish ring around Arab Jerusalem and to disrupt the natural Palestinian urban continuum along the mountain top. To the north, the ring cutting off Ramallah from East Jerusalem was completed with the construction of the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo. Givat Hamatos will do the same thing by bridging over the divide between Har Homah and Giloh.”

    According to Arieli, absent any possibility of maintaining a spatial continuum between their future capital and their metropolitan area, the Palestinians will demand that any arrangement for the joint administration of Jerusalem and the granting of special international status to the historic Jerusalem Holy Basin is applied to the whole city. According to all forecasts, this will turn Jerusalem within a decade into a city with an Arab majority and will produce hundreds of flash points, destabilizing the city and threatening the entire arrangement.

    In the face of these realities, Netanyahu presents his own “facts” and chastises the US administration for not doing its homework. He says that Givat Hamatos, like the Silwan neighborhood abutting the Old City walls, is an inseparable part of unified Jerusalem and Israel’s sovereign territory. The fact is that Israel is the only country that recognizes the annexation to Jerusalem of 70 square kilometers (27 square miles) of West Bank land captured in June of 1967 and the legality of the Jewish neighborhoods built across the Green Line. Netanyahu also claims, “Arabs in Jerusalem freely buy apartments, and nobody says that is forbidden.” In a meeting with journalists in his New York hotel, the prime minister added, “There must not be discrimination — not of Jews and not of Arabs.”

    In complete contradiction to the prime minister’s claim, not only is land in west Jerusalem out of bounds for Arab residents of East Jerusalem (only several hundred Palestinians have been granted Israeli citizenship), the 280,000 Palestinians there have no access to “national lands” even in areas that were under Jordanian control until 1967 and expropriated to build Israeli neighborhoods on some 35% of the area of East Jerusalem. The State of Israel sells real estate solely to Jews (93% of the land in Israel is “national land”). Article 19 of the Israel Land Administration’s land lease contract, which came into force on Sept. 1, 2013, clearly states that a foreign national cannot lease (not to mention gain title) national lands unless he obtains permission by virtue of his entitlement to immigrate to Israel under the Law of Return.

    And after all is said and done, and even as the world continues to wag its finger at Israel, it’s business as usual for the settlers as they make their way with heads held high from Har Homah to Givat Hamatos, from Sheikh Jarrah to Silwan.

    http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/10/israeli-arabs-apartments-east-west-jerusalem-national-lands.html

  11. Ismail on October 7, 2014, 3:26 pm

    A spat? Really? I see a defensive recitation of US fealty to Israel, and I see a doubling-down on the “only way to a resolution is negotiation” nonsense, which is exactly Israel’s position and, given the recent announcements by Abbas and Sweden, seems directed at Palesine more than Israel.

    I want good news as much as the next guy, but the reality principle really ought to govern.

  12. just on October 7, 2014, 3:38 pm

    Mr. Obama looks unhappy…or angry.

    Probably both. Hope he washed his hands afterwards.

    • just on October 7, 2014, 3:45 pm

      Refreshing to see the Israeli flag absent…

    • Rusty Pipes on October 7, 2014, 5:55 pm

      It’s the smiling between clenched teeth … counting down the last four weeks until the mid-term elections, carefully avoiding upsetting the major donors and their dependent congresscritters.

  13. amigo on October 7, 2014, 3:43 pm

    The US / Israel partnership is like a marriage where one Spouse , (Israel ) is the dominatrix and the other, (US ) is the willing victim.

    In this partnership , both partners seem comfortable with their respective roles.

    • Kay24 on October 7, 2014, 4:30 pm

      Amigo, I think the US is the willing victim, at least our politicians make sure of it.

      It is a one sided relationship, where Israel demands, and we keep giving.
      It sounds like an abusive relationship to me.

  14. Palikari on October 7, 2014, 8:06 pm

    Bibi was right. The truth hurts to American liberals.

    • Talkback on October 8, 2014, 8:24 am

      ROFL. Right about what, Palikari?

      You know very well that East Jerusalem is occupied and was illegaly annexed by Israel. You also know that settling in occupied territories is illegal, too. And I don’t think that commiting war crimes is an American value.

      That has nothing to do with being an American Liberal. It has something to do with not being an (Pro-) Israeli right extremist or fascist.

    • Shingo on October 8, 2014, 11:54 pm

      What truth dufus. Bibbi was correctedby the interviewer and admitted the settlement is outside tge ’67 lines and the fire illegal.

  15. Pretext on October 7, 2014, 9:15 pm

    If “odd” is what constitutes an open spat, we’re setting the bar *really* low.

    • Kay24 on October 8, 2014, 10:26 am

      On the other hand the US is SO sensitive to their feelings, careful what we say, how we phrase it, and dare not “hurt” them in any way, compared to other nations, even saying they are “Odd” in some way, is really huge!

  16. Citizen on October 8, 2014, 4:49 am

    Insightful to hear the Zionist King of tiny Israel lecture grand poopy POTUS on “American values.”

    What are those values anyway? Guess I will have to ask Beiden (chicklets, plugs)

  17. Vera Gottlieb on October 9, 2014, 12:21 pm

    The kettles calling each other black?

  18. Citizen on October 9, 2014, 5:29 pm

    World War III is on via proxies, deception & US lost its moral authority by being dishonest broker in ME http://youtu.be/W19H6pihBTU via @YouTube

  19. Shmuel on October 9, 2014, 6:23 pm

    Well at least he avoided the “Jewish state” formulation.

    And at least Netanyahu only treated the president like an idiot, using cheap hasbara parlour tricks, but didn’t actually call him one. Ah, for small mercies.

  20. The Dirty Democrat on October 10, 2014, 12:25 pm

    Bibi Mileikowsky aka Benyiman Netanyahu Is a lower tier scum ball with no common decency. By playing shit games on my president he has lowered himself even further.

    President has put up with this manure spreader far too long, but President Obama has too much class for Benny to understand. Once a pig always a pig wallowing in the slime he came from.

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