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October 9, 2016 6:30 am

Israel’s Justice Minister Calls US Condemnation of Planned West Bank Apartment Construction ‘Disproportionate’

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The Jewish community of Amona. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The Jewish community of Amona. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

JNS.org – A senior Israeli official said Thursday that the recent US condemnation of building plans in the West Bank was “disproportionate,” according to reports by Channel 2 and the Times of Israel.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, said the Obama administration’s harsh response to building permits issued for 98 apartments near the established Jewish community of Shiloh was meant to act as a “cover” and “alibi” for President Barack Obama’s decision to change American policy in terms of its diplomatic position on Israel.

According to the Times of Israel, Shaked added that the US should be condemning Syria for its ongoing civil war, “rather than criticizing where Israel builds houses.”

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“When the Middle East is in flames, when on the borders of Jordan and Syria dozens of men, women and children are slaughtered,” the US reaction “over a decision by the Defense Ministry to build a few dozen homes for the residents of Amona is completely out of proportion,” Shaked told Army Radio, the Times of Israel reported. She also encouraged increased settlement construction.

On Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest called the planned construction “a setback” in the efforts to reignite the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process. US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said the White House strongly condemns the construction plans, which he said amounted to the creation of a new settlement.

In response to these comments, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said, “The 98 housing units approved in Shiloh do not constitute a ‘new settlement.’ This housing will be built on state land in the existing settlement of Shiloh and will not change its municipal boundary or geographic footprint.”

“The units are intended to provide a housing solution for the residents of Amona who must leave their homes in accordance with the demolition order issued by Israel’s High Court of Justice,” the statement added.

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