Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in an interview which aired Sunday on CBS that the White House’s rebuke of Israeli construction in Jerusalem goes “against American values”.
In the interview, which was recorded on Thursday and of which excerpts were quoted by The Associated Press (AP), Netanyahu said he did not accept restrictions on where Jews could live, and said that Jerusalem’s Arabs and Jews should be able to buy homes wherever they want.
He said he was “baffled” by the American condemnation.
“It’s against the American values. And it doesn’t bode well for peace,” Netanyahu told CBS. “The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace.”
The recently backlash against Israel 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.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki criticized the move, using unusually harsh language in doing so.
She said the step would send a “troubling message” and added the construction would “poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations.”
Netanyahu later fired back at the United States’ criticism, telling NBC News' Andrea Mitchell that the U.S. should study the facts before it criticizes Israel over its construction.
"I think the important thing is to just get the facts right. I mean start with the facts," he told Mitchell.
Psaki later rejected Netanyahu’s claims, saying, “I think we have our information clear, and we responded to the facts on the ground.”
The White House declined to comment on Netanyahu’s statements in the CBS interview, noted AP.
In the same interview, Netanyahu warned that the “Islamic State” (ISIS), Hamas and Iran are locked in a competition to become the dominant Islamist power in the Middle East, which threatens both the United States and Israel.
"ISIS has got to be defeated because it's doing what all these militant Islamists are trying to do. They all want to first dominate their part of the Middle East, and then go on for their twisted idea of world domination," he said.
"The difference between ISIS and Hamas and ISIS and Iran and so on is they all agree that the world should be an Islamist hill, but ... each of them wants to be the king of the hill," he added.
"They want to accumulate enough power to then carry out their mad ambitions," said Netanyahu.
The Israeli prime minister also warned in the interview about what he believes are the dangers of making a deal on nuclear capabilities with Iran.
"This is the greatest terrorist regime in the world. And we don't want them to have the ultimate weapon of terror, which is nuclear weapons. My fear is that they would get the ability to enrich enough uranium for a bomb in a very short time, weeks, months, and that's the deal that I hope is not signed," Netanyahu said.
He said that such a deal would be bad for both the U.S. and Israel because Iran will not allow inspectors into the state and will exploit a time of crisis around the world to enrich enough material for a bomb that can be taken out of Iran by ship.
"I think it would endanger the future of our common civilization," he said of Iran, or a power like ISIS, gaining a nuclear weapon.
"The greatest danger that I see from these militant Islamists is that they will marry their mad ideologies to weapons of mass death. That is a threat not only to my people, the Jewish people and the Jewish state of Israel, but to your people. They view us as one because of our tolerant societies, whom they think is weak and corrupt," he said.