Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sat down with NBC News' Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday evening in New York where he pushed back against the White House's contention that planned new housing developments in east Jerusalem could "poison" the Middle East peace process.
"I think they (the Obama administration) should be acquainted with the facts first. You know? First of all, these are not settlements. These are neighborhoods of Jerusalem. We have Arab neighborhoods and we have Jewish neighborhoods," Netanyahu said.
Only hours after a relatively warm meeting between Obama and Netanyahu earlier on Wednesday, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki and White House spokesman Josh Earnest both separately condemned the Israeli construction of 2,500 new housing units.
"This development will only draw condemnation from the international community, distance Israel from even its closest allies, poison the atmosphere not only with the Palestinians but also with the very Arab governments with which Prime Minister Netanyahu said he wanted to build relations, and call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians," Psaki said at a briefing.
Netanyahu was not pleased about the timing of the remarks.
"Well, it doesn't make me feel good," he told Mitchell. "I think the important thing is to just get the facts right. I mean start with the facts."
Asked if he thought the president had the facts wrong, the prime minster said, "We didn't discuss it. I have to tell you, it was a generic (discussion) ... we didn't get into these specific instances."
More of the interview can be seen Thursday on NBC's TODAY show and MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports at 12 p.m. ET.
- U.S. Slams Israel Housing Construction Plan
- Netanyahu: ISIS, Hamas Branches From Same Poisonous Tree
- Abbas Accuses Israel of 'Rampant and Rising Racism'