Daily Israel Report

Itamar Massacre Fails to Change Obama’s Anti-Settlement Policy

Israel’s building plans as a response to Arab terror don't move US, which says settlements are illegitimate. MK Katz: "Gov’t must build more.”
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/14/2011, 11:05 AM / Last Update: 3/14/2011, 12:15 PM

Israel news photo montage

The Netanyahu government’s decision to build 500 new homes in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) as a response to Arab terror does not move the United States, which still insists that "settlements are illegitimate.”

The American criticism of Israel’s renewed Yesha building , restricted to major population centers, was true to form. That criticism caused National Union party chairman MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) to say that it would be aimed at Israel whether 5000, 500  or 50 houses were built. no matter where in Judea andSamaria they are built. He sharply criticized Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's announcement of only 500 new homes, when the needs are much greater, as a sign of weakness and being “too little and too limited.”

Knesset Member Katz explained, "The minuscule number of housing units announced by the government serves as a reward to the foul murderers of our people. The straight thinking public, those who love Israel and its nation, have had enough of this cowering, spineless behavior and will not forgive the Prime Minister's handing of the reins of building Judea and Samaria and United Jerusalem over to [Defense Minister] Ehud Barak."

“The government's weakness," said Katz, "will stimulate the inner, wholesome strength of the more than 600,000 residents of Judea and Samaria [including United Jerusalem] and those who support them, who will not rest until they replace the present jaded leaders with men of integrity, until we are led by humble and unassuming leaders who believe in the justice of their cause.”

The Obama administration’s criticism of Israel is based on its acceptance of the Palestinian Authority demand that Israel surrender all of the land restored to the Jewish state in the Six Day War in 1967. The political lines before the war were referred to as the “Auschwitz borders" by then-Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations, Abba Eban.

The Israeli response of “they murder and we build” was tempered with a statement that “measured construction” will be limited to the major Jewish population centers of Maaleh Adumin, Ariel, Kiryat Sefer and Gush Etzion.

Nevertheless, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the Obama administration was “deeply concerned" over the new construction for Jews. He repeated U.S. President Barack Obama’s declaration that the Jewish communities in the area are “illegitimate” and added that the new building plans "run counter to efforts to resume direct negotiations'' between Israelis and the Palestinian Authority.

The PA also denounced the new building plan.

Prime Minister Netanyahu imposed an unprecedented 10-month freeze on building new homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria in September 2009 to satisfy PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’s condition for resuming negotiations for the establishment of the PA as an independent country. However, Abbas then rejected the freeze as not being extensive enough. After the freeze ended, the government allowed the continuation of previously approved homes.

A de-facto freeze continues on new homes in most of Judea and Samaria that have not yet been approved, due to Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s refusal to sign necessary documents. He said he would agree to the 500 new units that a government ministerial committee approved Saturday night, 24 hours after the Itamar massacre.