Netanyahu is trying to tell us something.
Israel angered the US by announcing the move during a visit by Vice-President Joe Biden aimed at backing peace talks.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week asked Israel to show it was committed to Middle East peace efforts.
But PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejected any limits on Jewish building in Jerusalem and has yet to respond to US concerns.
Speaking to Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, Mr Netanyahu said he wanted peace negotiations, and hoped the Palestinians would not present “new preconditions” for talks.
“No government in the past 40 years has limited construction in neighbourhoods of Jerusalem,” he said.
“Building these Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem does not hurt the Arabs of East Jerusalem or come at their expense.”
Palestinian leaders say indirect peace talks with Israel that US mediators had worked to set up are now “doubtful”.
It has been the same message for years.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yigal Allon proposed that Israel would withdraw from Jericho as a first step toward realizing his larger plan: Israel would also give up major Palestinian towns deeper in the West Bank.
But Allon wanted to keep much of the West Bank under Israeli rule — including a ring of land surrounding Jerusalem and separating it from Jericho. By the fall of 1974, the Israeli-Jordanian contacts had failed. But Allon’s political ally, settlement czar Yisrael Galili, pushed on with Maale Adumim. Building is easier than negotiating, and it is harder to stop.[…]
Most of the built-up area of Maale Adumim lies inside the land that was confiscated.
This is a prima facie violation of international law. Under the 1907 Hague Convention, an occupying power may expropriate land only for the public use of the occupied population. Taking private West Bank land for Israeli use is therefore barred.
Netanyahu believes that building settlements doesn’t come at Arab expense, that’s fine, but it should come at Israel’s expense with regard to being an ally held up above all others in the region.