Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave a defiant speech at the AIPAC conference yesterday, attacking the premise that settlement construction in East Jerusalem represented any kind of problem for peace.

Declaring “Jerusalem is not a settlement,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu struck a defiant note on Monday after new U.S. criticism of Jewish home construction in disputed territory in and around the city […]

“The Jewish people were building Jerusalem 3,000 years ago and the Jewish people are building Jerusalem today. Jerusalem is not a settlement. It’s our capital,” Netanyahu said.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, which Israel captured along with the West Bank in a 1967 war, as the capital of a future state.

That’s a pretty dry rendering from Reuters there. East Jerusalem is occupied territory.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu goes from the friendly confines of the AIPAC conference to the White House today – after a meeting yesterday with Hillary Clinton.

Obama will seek “to create an atmosphere of trust and open dialogue” during his discussions with Netanyahu today, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley said the Israeli leaders meeting with Clinton involved “further discussion of the specific actions that might be taken to improve the atmosphere and keep proximity talks moving forward.”

Proximity talks are indirect negotiations mediated by the U.S. and intended to lead to direct bargaining over central issues standing in the way of a Palestinian state.

Last week it appeared that Netanyahu was backing down a bit in this standoff with the US. Obviously AIPAC is the proper venue for him to bluster – but let’s see if the substance is enough to put the proximity talks back on track.

David Dayen

David Dayen