Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told CBS’s Bob Schieffer on Face the Nation in an interview broadcast Sunday that he was “baffled” by President Obama’s assertion that if Israel goes forward with construction of a new housing development in East Jerusalem, it risks condemnation from the United States. “It’s not the American way,” said Netanyahu.
“I was baffled by this statement, because it doesn’t reflect American values. What we’re being criticized for is that some Jewish residents of Jerusalem bought apartments legally from Arabs in a predominantly Arab neighborhood, and this is seen as a terrible thing.”
“It’s against the American values. And it doesn’t bode well for peace,” he said. “The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace.”
Last week, an ultranationalist Jewish group said dozens of settlers would move into six apartment buildings purchased in the heart of a predominantly Arab neighborhood of east Jerusalem.
The international community, including the United States, does not recognize Israel’s annexation of the area and considers construction there to be illegitimate settlement activity.
But Netanyahu also said he is feeling “quite good” about his relationship with Obama.
“I don’t want to sound like an old married couple, but the president said that he’s had more meetings with me than with any other foreign leader,” Netanyahu said. “I think we have a relationship of mutual respect and mutual appreciation.”
The White House declined comment.