Thursday, June 4, 2009
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly rejected calls to end settlements in the occupied West Bank on Sunday after Netanyahu was pressed by the Obama administration to halt all settlement activity during a meeting last week in Washington.
Obama criticized settlement activity saying, "On the Israeli side, those obligations include stopping settlements. They include making sure that there is a viable, substantial Palestinian state."
Obama's requests were quickly met with rejection from the Israeli government, "I want to say in a crystal clear manner that the current Israeli government will not accept in any fashion that legal settlement activity be frozen," said Israeli transportation minister Yisrael Katz on Sunday.
Netanyahu also stated that Israel would not accept limits on housing development in Jerusalem, a city which Palestine hopes to make the capital of its future state. Israeli science minister, Daniel Herschkowitz, equated Obama's pleas to end settlement activity to the Pharaoh's decree that "every son that is born ye shall cast into the river."
Although the U.S. has verbally stated it wants to see an end to settlement activity, Israel is still the largest recipient of United States aid annually, receiving US$3 billion in financial aid and advanced military weaponry.
In related news, a law in Israel that would make refusal to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state illegal was rejected by an Israeli government committee today. Along with outlawing the marking of the Nabka, the bill would have made any "call to negate Israel's existence as a Jewish and democratic state, where the content of such publication would have a reasonable possibility of causing an act of hatred, disdain or disloyalty," a punishable offense imprisonable for up to one year.
== Sources ==
"Israel 'loyalty law' rejected" — Al Jazeera, May 31, 2009
"'Obama's decrees are like Pharaoh's'" — Jerusalem Post, May 31, 2009
Ali Daraghmeg. "6 dead in battle between Hamas, Palestinian police" — Associated Press, May 31, 2009
"Israel bites US hand that feeds it" — Press TV, May 31, 2009
"Stop settlement: Obama tells Israel" — The Hindu, May 31, 2009
Tom Baldwin. "President Obama tells Israel: stop expanding settlements" — Times Online, May 31, 2009
Joseph Nasr at Reuters. "Israeli bill seeks to outlaw denial of Jewish state" — Ottawa Citizen, May 27, 2009
"U.S. official: Obama won't cut military aid to Israel" — Haaretz, March 11th, 2009
"Budget of the United States Government" — U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008