U.S. officials score Netanyahu on ‘American values’ comment


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s questioning of “American values” in pushing back against Obama administration criticism of Jerusalem building was “odd,” U.S. officials said.

“American policy has been clear and unchanged under several administrations, both Democratic and Republican: We oppose any unilateral actions that attempt to prejudge final status issues, including the status of Jerusalem,” Jen Psaki, the State Department spokeswoman, said Monday in her daily briefing for reporters.

“So I have to say it was a bit odd to use ‘American values’ when clearly we’ve had a consistent view and a consistent position on this particular issue,” she said.

On Sunday, Netanyahu had told CBS in an interview that the criticism of expanding Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem was “against American values.”

Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, also called the locution “odd” in the White House briefing with reporters, but he went further, noting U.S. assistance to Israel.

“The fact is, when it comes to American values, it’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel,” he said. “It’s American values that have led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israel’s security in tangible ways.”

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