Benjamin Netanyahu defies Barack Obama to approve more homes
Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to President Barack Obama's criticism of his settlement policies by approving nearly 200 new Jewish homes in the West Bank in a move timed to show toughness in the face of international pressure.
Permission was given for new 114 new houses in Efrat, south of Jerusalem, and another 84 in Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, after it was claimed Mr Obama believed the Israeli prime minister was dragging Israel deeper into international isolation with successive settlement expansions.
Mr Netanyahu, in the midst of a close general election campaign, effectively told Mr Obama to mind his own business in a veiled but pointed response to the US president's purported belief that Mr Netanyahu "does not know what Israel's best interests are".
"Everyone understands that only Israelis will determine who faithfully represents Israel's vital interests," Mr Netanyahu said on a visit to the Israeli army's Gaza Division on Wednesday.
His comments addressed the furore triggered by a well-connected American journalist, Jeffrey Goldberg, who wrote in a column for Bloomberg that Mr Obama viewed Mr Netanyahu as a "political coward" held hostage by the Jewish settler lobby and whose policies threatened Israel's long-term survival.
The alleged remarks have reverberated across the Israeli political landscape, with commentators noting that the White House had not issued a denial.
Some analysts believe Mr Obama was taking revenge for Mr Netanyahu's ill-concealed preference for the Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, in last year's US presidential election.
Mr Netanyahu, who has angered the US and EU in recent weeks with a series of plans for thousands of new homes on land the Palestinians claim for a future state, has attempted to turn the issue to his own advantage by depicting himself as a strong leader who has resisted international demands that he compromise on Israel's vital interests.
"In the past four years we have withstood mighty pressures," he said.
"They demanded that we rein in the pressure against Iran and withdraw to the 1967 lines, they wanted us to partition Jerusalem and not to build in Jerusalem. We fended off all these pressures."
The final opinion polls before next Tuesday's general election showed Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud Beiteinu bloc on course to win between 32 and 37 Knesset seats, down from 42 at present and well below the numbers election strategists hoped for.
Friday, January 18, 2013
I Guess We Have To Go All of the Way To Israel To Find a Man With a Backbone To Stand Up To Barack Hussein Obama