Obama: "No crisis" with Israel

Published: March 17th 2010
in News >> Israel

East Jerusalem construction
Pic: sipaphotos

US President Barack Obama sought to put to bed the apparent diplomat feud between his administration and the Israeli government over building new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem on Thursday during an appearance on Fox News in which he said there was "no crisis".


"Israel's one of our closest allies, and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away. But friends are going to disagree sometimes," Obama told Fox News. He was appearing on Special Report with Bret Baier.


On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the announcement of his government's decision to build 1,600 additional homes in East Jerusalem Jewish neighbourhood Ramat Shlomo, which came during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the country, a "bureaucratic mishap".


Netanyahu explained that as Ramat Shlomo is considered a Jewish neighborhood, the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee approved the project without considering that it would spark controversy.


After the announcement, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spend a tense 45 minutes on the phone with Netanyahu expressing her displeasure with the decision. Last week, she insisted that Israel show its commitment to the peace process by canceling the building.


According to Haaretz, the State Department said on Wednesday that it had still not received a response from Netanyahu on the matter.


"We're still looking forward to a response. It hasn't happened yet," a spokesperson said. "There hasn't been a call yet."


Early Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister was still meeting with senior advisors in order to consider a response to Clinton's demand. It was not clear when a decision would be made.


Haaretz reported that during the meeting, Defense Minister Ehud Barak had a phone conversation with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell.


Mitchell cancelled a planned trip to Israel this week, however he said that it was possible he would visit the area on Sunday.


There is still no confirmation of what, if any, reply Barak gave to Mitchell regarding the White House's demands on halting the construction.





Related articles: (Ramat Shlomo, East Jerusalem, settlements, Netanyahu, Barak, George Mitchell)

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