Herzog Blasts Netanyahu Over Spat with Washington

Opposition leader has sharp criticism for Netanyahu after White House spokesman blasts PM for critcizing American values.

Elad Benari,

MK Yitzhak Herzog
MK Yitzhak Herzog
Flash 90

Opposition leader MK Yitzhak Herzog, head of the Labor party, had sharp criticism for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday evening, following the latest spat between Jerusalem and Washington over construction in Jerusalem.

In a post on his Facebook page hours after the White House slammed Netanyahu over his criticism of American values, Herzog accused the Prime Minister of having thrown Israel-U.S. relations into every pit possible.

“Netanyahu, perhaps you can explain to us once and for all how the irresponsible punches you are exchanging with the American government serve our most important interests?” wrote Herzog.

“There is not one pit in the relations with the United States that Netanyahu has not fallen into,” he continued. “The Prime Minister once again caused ​​a stupid and dangerous skirmish with the American administration and once again harmed the most essential interests of the State of Israel and its citizens.”

“The strategic rift in the relations with the United States threatens all the coalition partners and I call on [Finance Minister Yair] Lapid and [Justice Minister Tzipi] Livni to draw conclusions,” Herzog concluded.

Herzog’s sharp remarks come hours after White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that Netanyahu’s criticism of America for its concern over Israel's construction in Jerusalem was “odd”.

“When it comes to American values, it’s American values that led to this country’s unwavering support of Israel,” Earnest said. “It’s American values that have led us to fund an Iron Dome system” which protected Israeli cities from attacks by Hamas terrorists during Operation Protective Edge.”

Earnest’s remarks came in response to comments made by Netanyahu in an interview which aired on CBS a day earlier, and in which Netanyahu said that the criticism of Israel's plans to build in Jerusalem was “baffling. It’s against the American values. And it doesn’t bode well for peace,” Netanyahu said. “The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace.

The current spat between Israel and the U.S. is mainly over a plan to build 2,610 new homes in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Givat Hamatos. The housing units were slated for construction since 2012 and were given final approval last week.

Netanyahu’s remarks were a response to the harsh language used by State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki in criticizing Israel’s plan. Psaki said the step would send a “troubling message” and added the construction would “poison the atmosphere”.