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.