Obama Administration Says Netanyahu Broke Promise With New Settlement

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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Last month, the Obama administration pledged $38 billion in aid to the Israeli military, the largest such aid package in American history. This monumental generosity came despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attempts to undermine Barack Obama’s reelection and nuclear agreement with Iran, as well as the Jewish state’s ongoing expansion of settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Part of the ostensible reasoning behind the agreement was that the United States would be able to influence Israel’s behavior with carrots instead of sticks. Perhaps this is true. But if so, $38 billion does not buy a sufficient number of carrots.

The Netanyahu government recently announced a new settlement deep in the West Bank. On Wednesday, White House press secretary Josh Earnest expressed indignation.

“Well, we did receive public assurances from the Israeli government that contradict this announcement,” Earnest told reporters at his daily press briefing. “I guess when we’re talking about how good friends treat one another, that’s a source of serious concern as well.”

The new settlement would be closer to Jordan than Israel and connect a string of Jewish outposts, thereby dividing the West Bank in half, according to a State Department statement.

“The United States has long believed, and we continue to believe, that it is within the clear interest of Israel’s national security to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a way that allows a democratic and Jewish state of Israel to live side by side in peace and security with a viable and contiguous Palestinian state,” Earnest said. “And the announcement of these settlements makes that national security priority harder to achieve.”

The Israeli foreign minister responded by claiming that the proposed housing units “do not constitute a ‘new settlement.’”

“This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shilo and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint,” the minister’s statement said. “The units are intended to provide a housing solution for the residents of Amona who must leave their homes in accordance with the demolition order issued by Israel’s High Court of Justice.”