PM Told Obama: 'Check the Facts' Before Speaking

Israeli radio reports unusually harsh criticism leveled by Israeli PM against Washington's own harsh criticism of Jerusalem building.

Ari Soffer,

Netanyahu, Obama in the Oval Office (file)
Netanyahu, Obama in the Oval Office (file)
Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reportedly leveled unusually stern criticism of the White House's decision to criticize Israeli plans to build 1,610 homes in Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem during his meeting with President Barack Obama.

Israeli public radio quoted Netanyahu as telling Obama in talks in Washington Wednesday to "study the facts and details before making statements" about the building plan.

Earlier Wednesday, Washington issued its own notably-harsh statement condemning the building in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood, with White House spokesman Josh Earnest warning that the move would "distance Israel from even its closest allies".

Netanyahu's reported comments to Obama echoed similar statement he made to journalists following the meeting, in which he rejected US criticism as discriminatory.

"It’s worth learning the information properly before deciding to take a position like that," he said of the statement.

"As Prime Minister of Israel, I do not understand the criticism - Arabs in Jerusalem buy apartments and no one bothers them or rules them out. By the same token, I'm not going to say to Jews not to buy in Jerusalem, including in Silwan - we cannot have discrimination - this approach is unacceptable to me.

"It is the right of Jews to buy an apartment in Jerusalem - I stand firm by my decision, there will not be a situation where Jews will not be able to buy an apartment in Jerusalem," the prime minister reiterated.

Netanyahu also clarified that the plans had in fact been in the pipeline for two years, and both government officials and Israeli rights NGOs have criticized the media storm over the building plans as politically-motivated.

Meanwhile, Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) told Israeli army radio that 1,000 of the units - which are being built in a mixed Arab-Jewish area - would "go to Arabs," but did not elaborate.

AFP contributed to this report.




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