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Wednesday, April 7, 2010 as of 11:14 AM ET

Middle East


Jews and Palestinians Criticize Obama

November 18, 2009 - 11:22 AM | by: Mike Tobin

US President Obama told our Major Garrett “I think additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel’s security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbors.  I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous.”

As quickly as that quote was released, it became the shot heard around Israel. Within minutes, the 3 major Israeli news websites had it translated into Hebrew and up as the banner headline.  A great deal of attention is paid to the growing strain between Israel and the US because President Obama demanded the freeze on all settlement construction, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to build and his government continues to announce more plans for construction.

Instead of adopting the freeze in settlement construction Netanyahu’s government is using the word “restraint,” meaning they will restrict construction to land upon which Israel has already settled. They won’t grab new land in the West Bank.

Still, they build, agitating the Obama administration and well as Palestinians. Plans were announced on Tuesday for 900 new housing units in the settlement Gilo. That is not a contentious settlement because, although it is beyond the 1967 border, it was long ago annexed into Jerusalem and is considered untouchable in negotiations. That did not stop the White House from issuing a statement saying, “We are dismayed” by the new construction plans.

On Wednesday – - –  told Fox News Radio’s Courtney Kealy that Palestinians have lost trust in President Obama, “His speech in Cairo last June inspired many that there would be a breakthrough in the Palestinian Israeli conflict. But now Palestinians here say they are pessimistic and have lost faith in his administration…they feel he hasn’t been tough enough on Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu in demanding a complete halt in settlement building.”

And in East Jerusalem, American Democrats were taking swings at the President. A group of American Jews laid the cornerstone for a new Jewish neighborhood on land that the Palestinians want for their future capitol. As that happened New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-NY) told Fox News, “The people of Israel right now don’t trust Obama that he is really being fair to Israel.  He can’t figure it out, what to do in Afghanistan while our troops are in danger but he can figure out that a few more hundred Jews living in Gilo is going to undermine the peace process.”

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