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article imageIsraeli-American war of words continues

By Bob Gordon     Mar 17, 2010 in Politics
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee today General David Petraeus said the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fomenting anti-American sentiment due to the perception of U.S. favoritism towards Israel.
The issue was exacerbated this week when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem while U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country.
According to the General the perception of bias in favor of Israel undermines American opportunities throughout the Middle East and the wider Muslim community:
Enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the area of responsibility.... Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples.
The General's comments reflect a hardening of the positions of both pro-Zionist groups and opponents of continued Israeli provocations including the U.S. Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, members of the European Union and the media throughout the world.
Clinton said during an interview on CNN on Friday evening that the declaration of Israeli intentions to move more settlers into East Jerusalem was an "insult" to the United States:
I mean, it was just really a very unfortunate and difficult moment for everyone - the United States, our vice president who had gone to reassert our strong support for Israeli security - and I regret deeply that that occurred and made that known.
Presidential political adviser David Axelrod also described the provocative action as an "insult":
It was an insult, but that's not the most important thing.... It is absolutely imperative, not just for the security of Israel and the Palestinian people, who were, remember, at war just a year ago, but it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue.
Ynetnews.com summarized the negative reaction throughout the French media:
French publication L'Express reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet ignored international calls when they announced their un-compromising intention to continue building in Jerusalem, despite the existing unrest.
French daily Libération criticized Israel's government for its repeated provocations, while mentioning the current dispute over east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah and Ramat Shlomo neighborhoods, as well as the inauguration of Hurva Synagogue.
The Dome of the Rock dominates Jerusalem.
The Dome of the Rock dominates Jerusalem.
File photo
On the other hand, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman described opposition to Israeli building and settlement in East Jerusalem as unreasonable and discriminatory, ""The demand to forbid Jews to buy or build in East Jerusalem is unreasonable.... Jerusalem is Israel's capital and must be accessible to members of all faiths, anyone may buy and build wherever he likes."
At the same time Haaretz published an internal Israeli Foreign Ministry report that discounted America's response and predicted that a focus on the mid-term elections in November would distract American attention from aggressive Israeli actions designed to increase settlement and undermine Palestinian autonomy and the peace process.
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