U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, took aim at President Barack Obama’s criticism of Israel’s plans to add more housing around Jerusalem.
After Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met at the White House on Wednesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Obama questioned the plan to add 2,500 homes, insisting it would undermine the peace process with the Palestinians.
“This development will only draw condemnation from the international community,” Earnest said. “It also would call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians.”
Netanyahu told reporters on Wednesday that he and Obama did not touch on the planned construction during their meetings.
Rubio, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, came out swinging at Obama on Thursday, calling the president‘s decision “deplorable.”
“The Obama administration’s decision to criticize Israel for housing construction in Jerusalem, even as the president hosted Prime Minister Netanyahu at the White House yesterday, was deplorable,” Rubio said. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and the United States should not be condemning zoning and permitting decisions made by Jerusalem’s municipal government.
“Moreover, the insinuation that Israel could and should have done more to avoid civilian casualties during recent operations in Gaza is a shameful attack on an ally,” Rubio added. “Despite being faced with a steady barrage of rocket fire raining down on Israeli civilians, the Israeli Defence Forces showed great restraint even as Hamas used the residents of Gaza as human shields. As we know from our own experiences in combat, avoiding all civilian casualties is nearly impossible – and when a foe uses civilians as shields, as Hamas does, it is entirely impossible.”
Moving away from the specific issue on the housing plan to Obama‘s record on Israel in general, Rubio continued to fire away.
“The Obama administration’s view of Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts suggests that it has learned nothing from its six years of failed efforts,” Rubio said. The administration can continue to live in a fantasy world where we are always just one step from a renewal of the peace process and the achievement of a comprehensive agreement, but the fact of the matter remains that Israel does not have a viable negotiating partner. Palestinian ‘leaders’ who make false accusations of genocide, partner with a terrorist group, and constantly peddle hateful rhetoric, rather than take the tough decisions required to create a lasting peace, are not seeking peace with Israel.
“This is another case of President Obama’s bizarre logic of tearing down our closest partners while building up those who do not share our values,” Rubio said in conclusion. “Especially now, when Israel and moderate Arab states in the Middle East are facing terrorist attacks, the president should begin to treat Israel as the invaluable and reliable friend it truly is.”
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