Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Clinton tries to defuse tension between US and Israel

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dismissed the idea that US-Israeli relations are in crisis amid a row over Jewish settlers in Arab East Jerusalem.She said the two nations had a 'close, unshakeable bond' but made clear the US wanted both Israel and the Palestinians to prove their commitment to peace.
The Israeli ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, was quoted by Israeli media on Monday as saying that ties between the US and Israel were at their lowest point since 1975.Asked if that was the case, Mrs Clinton said: 'I don't buy that'. She said Washington had an 'absolute commitment to Israel's security'.But, she added, the US did not always agree with its international allies on everything, and it had expressed its 'dismay and disappointment' to Israel over last week's incident.
Last week, Mrs Clinton called the settlements announcement 'insulting' to the US and, in a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanded Israel take steps to show its commitment to peace.
The US says it is still awaiting a 'formal' response. Special envoy George Mitchel who had planned to travel to Jerusalem on Tuesday, has  postponed his visit to a yet unknown date.
 Clinton's attempt to diminish the tension between Washington and Jerusalem didn't keep rightist Israelis
 and Israel protagonists to develop an extremely anti-Obama attitude.Haaretz reported that rightists in Jerusalem planned to hang hundreds of posters across the country in which Oama is pictured as an agent of the PLO.

Meanwhile I read on Laura Rozen's blog Politico 
that White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that Vice President Joseph Biden never told Israeli leaders that Israeli settlement activities imperil the lives of U.S. troops. Rozen who is usually very well infomed about what goes on in Washington, got this from ABC's Jack Tapper.
Te source for the remarks Biden supposedly made behind close doors to Netanyahu ('This is going to be dangerous') was the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth. Rozen quoted his remarks on her blog (and so did I)  but she was told by an administration official today that it was 'absolutely not accurate'. The Yedioth report was translated by an Israeli news translation service distributed to English-speaking journalists.

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