WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Orthodox Union and Anti-Defamation League criticized as unhelpful the Obama administration’s sharp rebuke to Israel for announcing building plans in eastern Jerusalem.
Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, in a statement Wednesday said that the building announcement last week by Israel would “distance Israel from even its closest allies” and “poison the atmosphere.” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki delivered similar remarks.
The Orthodox Union in a statement Thursday said that the statement ran counter to an otherwise constructive meeting Wednesday between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nathan Diament, O.U. Washington’s executive director, said the statements “suggest that the onus for the peace process impasse is upon Israel, when in fact it is decades of Palestinian and Arab rejectionism and incitement (such as that voiced by Palestinian President Abbas at the U.N. General Assembly last week) that ‘poisons the atmosphere’ for peace.”
The ADL’s national director, Abraham Foxman, said in a statement that the remarks were “myopic, ill-timed and off the mark.” He also said they distracted from the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama.
“The United States and Israel should remain solidly focused on the issues the President and Prime Minister outlined in public comments before their private meeting — shared concerns about the global threat of Iran’s nuclear program, the battle against the peril to the region from brutal extremists, and a way forward for Israel and the Palestinians — after the seven weeks of fighting — to stop Hamas rocket attacks against Israel,” Foxman said.