In defiance of President Obama’s expressed and unequivocal statements and international obligations, the Netanyahu government in Israel intends to authorize “hundreds” of new housing units on Palestinian territory in the West Bank, which the AP reports is a prelude to even *more *settlement construction. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ office just sent out this statement rejecting the move:
We regret the reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction. Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel’s commitment under the Roadmap.
As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop. We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate.
We do appreciate Israel’s stated intent to place limits on settlement activity and will continue to discuss this with the Israelis as these limitations are defined.
The U.S. commitment to Israel’s security is and will remain unshakeable. We believe it can best be achieved through comprehensive peace in the region, including a two-state solution with a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with Israel.
That is the ultimate goal to which the President is deeply and personally committed.
Our objective remains to resume meaningful negotiations as soon as possible in pursuit of this goal. We are working with all parties – Israelis, Palestinians, and Arab states — on the steps they must take to achieve that objective.
Notice that the White House is giving Netanyahu the opportunity to walk this whole mess back, what with the formulation “reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction.” Will Netanyahu take the opportunity, or will he continue to gamble with the U.S.-Israeli relationship, despite Israel’s obligations and his own alleged support for a two-state solution?
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