Former Ambassadors: Media Hype Spurs Controversy

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JERUSALEM, Israel - Former Israeli ambassadors Zalman Shoval and Moshe Arens said media hype played a key role in the hullabaloo over the construction in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo.

"In the eyes of the Israeli media, we are supposedly going from one crisis to another, week by week," the former ambassador said.

"The demand not to build in Gilo seems strange and even bizarre since it has been inhabited for more than 30 years," he said.

Gilo, he pointed out, is not an east Jerusalem neighborhood.

"It's not east Jerusalem. Arabs have never lived in Gilo and its houses weren't built on private Arab land," Shoval said.

Moshe Arens agreed.

"Crisis is too big a word. It's not a crisis, but a difference of opinion we've shared in the past and will share in the future," Arens said.

"There has been a change with the Obama administration, but in tone and in music. Perhaps the demand has always existed in internal conversations, but it has not prompted such public resonance as it does today," he said, also attributing the "crisis" to media coverage.

Both Shoval and Arens believe Israeli-U.S. relations remain strong, evidenced by the overwhelming support for the Jewish state by Congress.

"My estimate is that this support won't wane - just the opposite," Shoval said.

Israel, Arens said, is within its legitimate rights to reject the Obama administration's demands.

Shoval served as Israeli ambassador to the U.S. at the beginning and end of the 90s, and Arens served in the early 80s.

Source: YNet news

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