Edelstein: Doesn't US Have Other Worries Now?

Knesset chairman questions US scrutiny of Jerusalm building plans. 'ISIS is taking over the Middle East, and they worry about this?'

Moshe Cohen,

Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein
Flash 90

Adding his voice to the chorus of Israeli officials slamming the State Department for its comments on Israel's building plans in Jerusalem, Knesset chairman MK Yuli Edelstein (Yisrael Beytenu) said that the US had other, more important things to worry about right now.

"It's a shame that as the Islamic State (IS) is rising and taking over the Middle East, that the US would worry about construction of some homes in Jerusalem," he remarked.

Jerusalem's local committee on Wednesday approved building permits for 2,610 housing units in the Givat HaMatos neighborhood in Jerusalem. The approval was passed by a vote of six to one, with former deputy mayor of Jerusalem Pepe Alalu voting against the proposal. Givat Hamatos is a southern suburb of the capital located in an area restored to the city during the 1967 Six Day-War. 

On Wednesday, the US State Department used unusually harsh language when criticizing Israel’s approval of planned construction of 2,610 homes in Jerusalem. “This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister (Binyamin) Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations,” Psaki was quoted as having told a briefing. In addition, it would “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement,” she added.

Speaking earlier Monday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that Psaki was entitled to her opinion, but that Israel respectfully disagreed. “Racism and discrimination on the basis of race or religion is illegal in Israel, as it is in the US,” he said. “I will not allow that kind of discrimination here by freezing construction for Jewish building in Jerusalem.”

As with all of Judea and Samaria, any area of Jerusalem seized illegally by Jordan during the 1948 War of Independence and occupied by that country until 1967 is claimed by the Palestinian Authority for its hoped-for state. In particular, the PA has claimed the parts of Jerusalem that were occupied by Jordan to be used for a capital of that state. The international community and leftist organizations support the claim.

Edelstein was in Vienna Thursday meeting with Austria's Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz. The two discussed security and other issues, with Edelstein telling his host that the EU must ensure that Hamas did not use the funds being raised for the reconstruction of Gaza to buy more weapons to attack Israel.