Economics Minister Naftali Bennett fired back at US Secretary of State John Kerry's accusations before the Senate on Tuesday, where he blamed Israel for responsibility over the collapse of the peace talks.
Kerry criticized Israel, saying "700 settlement units were announced in Jerusalem, and 'poof'...that was sort of the moment." His comment referred to a reissued call for tenders on over 700 housing units in the southern Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo last Tuesday. A construction freeze on Jewish building in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria was not a precondition of the talks.
"Israel will never apologize for building in Jerusalem," struck back Bennett. "I heard that they defined the building in Jerusalem as 'poof.' Many years they tried with 'poofs' and 'booms' and explosives to prevent us from living in the eternal capital of the Jewish people. That won't happen."
"Building in Jerusalem isn't a 'poof,' building in Jerusalem is Zionism," declared Bennett.
Speaking before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Kerry blamed Israel for putting on hold the fourth and final batch of terrorist releases set for March 29. The move followed the total lack of progress in peace talks, and widespread protest to the unpopular release.
After Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas requested to join 15 UN agencies last Tuesday, in breach of the talk conditions, Israel cancelled the terrorist release.
Kerry simply noted before the senate that Abbas's move was "clearly unhelpful." He added "it is the responsibility of the two sides to make decisions," noting that "both sides took negative steps."
US negotiator Martin Indyk held a third meeting between Israel and the PA to try and rescue the floundering peace talks on Sunday, with no significant advances coming as a result of the meeting.