US Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with President Barack Obama. (AP/Andrew Harnik) (AP/Andrew Harnik)
Barack Obama, John Kerry

After Israel announced it would build more homes for Jews in Shiloh in Samaria, the White House and State Department both condemned Israel for establishing a new “settlement,” but the accusation is false and only proves that the Obama administration is biased.  

The Obama administration on Wednesday once again condemned Israel for plans to construct housing on disputed territory – land claimed by Israel and the Palestinians – saying a new “settlement” announced last week profoundly hurts efforts to forge a two-state solution to the long-running conflict.

The Israeli foreign ministry said only 98 units had been approved and said they do not constitute a new “settlement.” It said the new housing would be built on state-owned land within the municipal boundaries of Shiloh and would not change its boundaries or geographic footprint. It said the construction is necessary to relocate Jewish residents from another area who must leave their homes due to a court order.

“Israel remains committed to a solution of two states for two peoples, in which a demilitarized Palestinian state recognizes the Jewish state of Israel,” the ministry said in a statement. “The real obstacle to peace is not the ‘settlements’ — a final status issue that can and must be resolved in negotiations between the parties — but the persistent Palestinian rejection of a Jewish state in any boundaries.”

In unusually strong statements, the White House and State Department lashed out at the proposal to build up to 300 housing units and establish an industrial zone in Shiloh.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said every US administration since 1967 has opposed Israeli “settlement” activity in the “occupied territories,” and the Obama administration has publicly restated that view because of the concern that “settlement” activity in the “West Bank” and “East Jerusalem” undermines the goal of a two-state solution.

“The actions of the Israeli government in announcing this settlement undermine the pursuit of peace,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

“I guess, when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that’s a source of serious concern as well,” he said mockingly.

At the State Department, spokesman Mark Toner said moving ahead with the project would be “another step toward cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation that is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state.”

“Such moves will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from many of its partners, and further call into question Israel’s commitment to achieving a negotiated peace,” he said.

Unfortunately, both the White House and State Department have placed themselves on the wrong side of history and, in addition to getting everything wrong about the Middle East over the past few years, continue to demonstrate a clear anti-Israel bias which, of course, only distances prospects for a peaceful solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

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