As the pressure on Israel to curtail its construction plans in the Jerusalem E1 area heats up, a senior Israeli minister stressed that as a response to the recent PA bid at the UN, Israel’s actions were controlled. Finance Minster Yuval Steinitz said this morning that Israel “can not remain indifferent” to the PA’s UN status upgrade. “If this attack continues we will do what is necessary and right, it was the policy of all governments and we know how to handle things like this. Israel’s response is strong, but calculated and measured,” Steinitz said, according to a translation of a report from Israel’s Channel 2. He also cautioned, “Do not confuse the aggressor with who responds to aggression.”
Tuesday Brazil and Australia both summoned their Israeli ambassadors to protest Israel’s plans. Bob Carr, Australia’s Foreign Minister, was quoted as saying, “This type of activity undermines efforts to reach a solution of two states, without which Israel will never enjoy security.”
Meanwhile British Foreign Minister William Hague said that imposing EU trade sanctions on Israel is not an option.
Steinitz said of relations with Europe and the U.S.: “I’m sure the excellent economic cooperation between Israel and Europe, and Israel and the U.S., won’t be harmed” by the settlement flap.
On Monday the UK, France, Sweden, Spain, and Denmark all summoned the Israeli ambassadors in their respective countries.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Monday that the U.S. asked Israel to “reconsider these unilateral decisions and exercise restraint, as these actions are counterproductive and make it harder to resume direct negotiations to achieve a two-state solution. We reiterate our long-standing opposition to Israeli settlement activity and east Jerusalem construction.”
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office issued a statement saying Israel would “continue to stand up for its vital interests even in the face of international pressure.”