Settlement issue provokes 'biggest crisis in relations for 35 years'
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday strongly defended Jewish settlement construction in East Jerusalem in the face of US pressure and what one of his own top diplomats described as the worst crisis in relations with Washington for more than three decades.
A defiant Mr Netanyahu appeared to be digging in despite clear indications that the is now demanding the scrapping of plans for 1,600 new Jewish homes, whose announcement overshadowed last week's visit to Israel by the US Vice-President Joe Biden. Mr Netanyahu's stance appeared to guarantee, after a highly charged week, the protraction of a stand-off in which a full-scale diplomatic row blew up at the start of Mr Biden's visit and appeared to abate at the end of it. But it was then reignited by demands from and an angry White House that Israel make amends for the "insulting" announcement just as indirect negotiations with the Palestinians had finally been arranged.
The US is now said to be demanding substantive concessions from Israel after a warning by the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that he would not take part in talks if the plan to expand the mainly ultra-orthodox Ramat Shlomo settlement went ahead. The row has appeared finally to bring to a head the year-long tensions between the two since Barack Obama tried in vain to persuade the Israeli Prime Minister to agree to a total settlement freeze. He was thwarted by Mr Netanyahu who agreed only to a partial 10-month freeze, which did not include East Jerusalem.
It is my opinion that Prime Minister Netanyahu has run out of patience with the arrogant Obama.
He :("O") seems to be doing everything within his power to alienate the strongest ally we have in the Middle East.