Top news: A high-profile U.S.-Israel meeting has again been overshadowed by new Israeli construction plans. Just minutes before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Barack Obama in Washington last night, the municipality of Jerusalem announced the approval of a plan to construct 20 new appartments for Jews in an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem. The U.S. government had demanded that the project be suspended when it was initially approved last July.
The latest announcement is reminiscent of Vice President Joe Biden's visit to Israel earlier this month, during which Israel announced the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. Jerusalem officials say that yesterdays's approval was just a procedural measure for a plan that has been in place for months and that opponents are blowing it out of proportion to create trouble during Netanyahu's visit. But opposition lawmakers see a deliberate provocation:
"Is this another 'unfortunate' mistake? Is this another 'misunderstanding?'" said Labor MK Eitan Cabel. "Netanyahu decided to spit into Obama's eye, this time from up close. He and his pyromaniac ministers insist on setting the Middle East ablaze."
Netanyahu and Obama met for three hours at the White House last night after meeting earlier in the day with Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Congressional leaders. There has been no immediate U.S. reaction to the lastest housing announcement.
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