Thursday, March 18, 2010

Obama seeks to calm US-Israeli relations

From Associated Press, 18 March 2010, by Stephen Collinson (AFP):

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday denied a crisis was rocking US-Israeli relations, as one of the worst rows in years between the allies rumbled on over new homes for Jewish settlers.

Obama's first public comments on the showdown came as his administration awaited a response from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about Washington's sharp complaints over the episode.

The president was asked in an interview with Fox News if there was a "crisis" in US-Israeli relations after the announcement on 1,600 new settler homes in annexed east Jerusalem embarrassed Vice President Joe Biden during a visit to the Jewish state.

"No," Obama answered. "We and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away.... But friends are going to disagree sometimes ... there is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward."

...he called on both Israelis and Palestinians to "take steps to make sure that we can rebuild trust."

In a bid to show even-handedness, after a year in which his efforts to kick-start peace talks have failed, Obama said that his administration had condemned violence sparked by Palestinians in East Jerusalem on Tuesday.

"What we need right now is both sides to recognize that it is in their interest to move this peace process forward."...
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