In what's turning into a tit-for-tat between the Israeli prime minister and the Obama administration, White House press secretary Josh Earnest on Monday expressed dismay at Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent comments saying the administration’s opposition to new Israeli settlements “goes against American values.”
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin
“It did seem odd for him to try to defend the actions of his government by saying that our response did not reflect American values,” Earnest told reporters Monday. “The fact is, American policy has been clear and unchanged under several administrations both Democrat and Republican.”
Hours after Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama at the White House last week, Earnest admonished Israel for planning more settlement construction in east Jerusalem, which Israel says is part of its united capital but which Palestinians claim for their future independent state.
In an interview with CBS News after Earnest's criticism, the prime minister said he was “baffled” by what the White House said.
“It’s against the American values. And it doesn’t bode well for peace,” Netanyahu said. “The idea that we’d have this ethnic purification as a condition for peace, I think it’s anti-peace.”
Asked about Netanyahu's comments Monday, Earnest repeatedly said American values have led to the U.S. government assisting Israel.
“It’s American values that lend this country’s unwavering support to Israel,” Earnest said. "It’s American values that led us to fight for and secure funding to strengthen Israeli security. It’s American values that led us to fund and build an Iron Dome system that protected the lives of countless innocent Israeli citizens. It’s American values that have led the United States to fully support Israel’s right to defend itself. It’s American values that have led us to defend Israel in a variety of international forums.”