United States President Barack Obama was criticized Thursday after calling on Israel to continue to forbid Jews to build in Judea and Samaria, in a speech to the United Nations.
“Israel's settlement moratorium has made a difference on the ground, and improved the atmosphere for talks,” he said. “We believe that the moratorium should be extended. We also believe that talks should press on until completed.”
Regarding talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Obama said, “We can say that this time it will be different, that this time, we will not let terror, or turbulence, or posturing, or petty politics stand in the way.” If talks succeed, he said, “we can have an agreement that will lead to a new member of the United Nations – an independent, sovereign state of Palestine, living in peace with Israel.”
Obama's call to continue the construction freeze led Samaria Regional Council head Gershon Mesika to term the U.S. president “racist” and “ignorant.”
“Hussein Obama is a racist, arrogant politician who really and truly believes, apparently due to ignorance, that Israel is a dictatorship like the rest of the countries in the Middle East, and that its leaders can 'pull tricks' despite the will of the people,” he said. Most Israelis oppose the construction freeze, Mesika said, describing the freeze as “a racist step against Jews alone.”
MK Danny Danon (Likud) dimissed Obama's pressure, saying, “Obama is welcome to turn on CNN on Sunday and watch the tractors resume construction in the land of Israel.” He expressed concern over the president's statements, saying that whoever believes that peace depends on a construction freeze is out of touch with reality, and should not play a part in peace talks.
MKs Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and Zev Elkin (Likud) of the Knesset Lobby for the Land of Israel called on Obama to “honor the democratic decision of Israel's citizens, who voted in favor of strengthening Jewish cities in Judea and Samaria, and against concessions and withdrawals.”
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas said he was pleased with Obama's speech. In his own speech, Abbas said that he is ready for peace. Abbas insisted on a freeze as a prerequisite for talks, but did not agree to them until the ten month freeze was almost over, using its continuation as a lever for pressuring Israel.
"How can the President of the United States be a broker for peace if he demands preconditions for talks when Israel is ready to negotiate without preconditions, and how can he demand a condition that is so one sided," was the response of Danny Dayan, head of the Council of Judea and Samaria.