March 17, 2010
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dismissed reported rifts between Washington and Tel Aviv over Israel’s new settlement plans in East Jerusalem al-Quds, insisting on American unconditional commitment to the regime that occupies Palestine.
At a press conference on Tuesday Clinton refuted ‘claims’ that the relationship between the United States and Israel were at a crisis.
“We have an absolute commitment to Israel’s security. We have a close unshakeable bond‚Ä¶ and we share common values,” she said.
But she added that the US did not always agree with its allies on everything, acknowledging that it had expressed “dismay and disappointment” to Israel over its announcement that it will begin constructing 1,600 settlement units in al-Quds.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the declaration last week, as US Vice-President Joe Biden visited the region to try to kick-start stalled peace talks.
US administration officials, including Biden, Clinton and senior presidential advisor David Axelrod have reportedly critisized both the new construction plans and the timing of the announcement as insulting and destructive to peace efforts.
Following the ordeal, Tel Aviv’s ambassador to the US Michael Oren made the claim to the Israeli media on Monday that ties between Washington and the regime were at their lowest point since 1975.
Following Oren’s claim, the influential pro-Israel lobby groups in Washington, Republican congressmen and other senior US officials have called on the White House to take immediate steps to defuse tensions with Israel.
A US envoy is now expected to return to the region later in the week to try to get peace talks, suspended since December 2008, resumed again.
Acting Palestinian Authority Chief Mahmoud Abbas, however, refused direct or indirect negotiations without a complete settlement freeze.
The recent developments come as fresh clashes erupted between hundreds of Palestinians and Israeli police, following the inauguration of a rebuilt synagogue in East al-Quds near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
The Red Crescent in al-Quds reported that at least 49 Palestinians were wounded by noon in the Old City on Tuesday. Recent reports, however, indicate that the number of the injured stand at 100.
Palestinians have described the US-backed action by the Israeli regime as ‘the first step’ in an Israeli ploy to destroy the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the name of rebuilding a Jewish Temple (Temple Mount) on its ruins.
Observers in the region believe the controversial move by the Israeli regime has been deliberately timed to coincide with the apparent tension between Washington and Tel Aviv over the expansion of Jewish settlements in al-Quds in an effort to deviate attention from US backing of the major Israeli provocation.
This article was posted: Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 5:27 am