State Dept: Our View on 'Settlements' is Clear

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki responds to Netanyahu's declaration that Israel will continue to build in Jerusalem.

Ben Ariel,

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki
State Department

The back and forth banter between Jerusalem and Washington over Israeli plans to build new homes in its capital continued on Tuesday.

As The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg quoted anonymous officials in the Obama administration who launched a verbal tirade against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki had some words of her own for Israel.

Speaking to reporters, Psaki responded to Netanyahu’s comments earlier Tuesday, in which he declared that Israel would continue to build Jewish homes in Jerusalem despite international criticism.

“Our policy has been clear for many administrations. The policy continues to oppose unilateral steps that would prejudge the outcome of negotiations on Jerusalem,” said Psaki, who said that Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Netanyahu and “conveyed very clearly what our view is on settlements. And the fact remains that if actions are taken that are not conducive to peace, it makes it very difficult to not only return to a negotiation but to obviously reach a two-state solution.”

“Our view on construction is longstanding. And we’ve stated it many times here. We’ll continue to express those views. We’ve – as I mentioned yesterday, we continue to urge both sides to take steps that are conducive to what they state they want to achieve, which is peace in the region and a two-state solution,” added Psaki.

Netanyahu earlier stated, "I heard an argument that the construction of Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem distances [the Middle East from] peace. It is this criticism which distances peace."

"These statements are detached from reality, they are harboring false statements made by the Palestinians," he added.

Netanyahu’s remarks were a response to Psaki’s earlier criticism of Israeli plans to build some 1,000 new housing units in Jerusalem.

On Monday, Psaki responded to the move by saying Washington was "deeply concerned" by the reports and American embassy officials were having high-level talks with Israeli leaders to seek more information.