The announcemnet of plans to build new houses in East Jerusalem are not helpful for the Middle East peace process, but the recent row over the issue does not amount to a crisis in US-Israeli relations, Barack Obama has said. The president spoke in an interview on the Fox News network on Wednesday. It were his first comments on the recent developments. Obama rejected a suggestion from the interviewer that the Israeli announcement had triggered a 'crisis' in relations and said that in spite of what happened Israel remains 'one of our closest allies'. 'We and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away,' Obama said. 'But friends are going to disagree sometimes… There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward.'
Obama added that 'the actions that were taken by the interior minister in Israel weren't helpful to [the peace] process. Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged as much and apologised for it,' he said.'What we need right now is both sides to recognise that it is in their interests to move this peace process forward'. Israelis and Palestinians need to 'take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust', Obama said, adding that his administration had condemned recent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli forces in East Jerusalem triggered by the settlement announcement.
Listening to Obama make one wonder what - if anything - Israel should to do in order to cause a real crisis. While the president was speaking Secetary of State Hillaryu Clinton took off or Moscow. Officials said before her departure that she continued to await a response from Netanyahu to US complaints over the planned East Jerusalem settlements. 'We're still looking forward to a response. It hasn't happened yet. There hasn't been a call yet,' Mark Toner, a State Department spokesman, told reporters.