Obama aide calls Israeli settlement
announcement an 'insult' to the US

By: Rory McCarthy in Jerusalem

The announcement that Israel plans to build 1600 additional housing units in East Jerusalem at a time when Vice President Biden was visiting Israel a few days ago WAS NO ACCIDENT despite efforts on both the Israeli and US sides to characterize it as such. It was part of a series of carefully crafted moves Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his right-wing evangelical partners in the United States, led by Pastor JOHN HAGEE, to make a statement that East Jerusalem WILL NEVER BE SURRENDERED to the Arabs as part of a "two-state" solution to ending the Israeli / Palestinian conflict.

WE URGE YOU TO SEE THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE, "A DISASTER IS STALKING OBAMA IN THE MIDDLE EAST" which will shed a good deal of light on what's happening. Please also see our articles, "Whether Obama Will Live or Die May Be Determined by What He Does in the Middle East and Central Asia" and "McCain and Palin: The Business Right Marries the Religious Right."

One of President Obama's most senior aides has described Israel's sudden announcement of plans to build 1,600 homes in occupied East Jerusalem as an "affront" to the US ...

Yesterday, David Axelrod said the move, which overshadowed a visit to Israel by the US vice-president, Joe Biden, was "very destructive."

"This was an affront, it was an insult but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to that region," he said on NBC's Meet the Press. "For this announcement to come at that time was very destructive."

Axelrod, one of the architects of Obama's election, is not the first US official to have criticized the decision but he is one of the president's closest advisers.

The announcement on Tuesday that thousands of new homes were being planned in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem came on the eve of Biden's arrival in the region for discussions to restart "proximity talks" between Israel and Palestinians, with the US mediating. Almost immediately, the news prompted Palestinian leaders to pull out of the new round of talks.

Israel's cabinet minister, Isaac Herzog, apologized for the timing of the announcement but not for its substance.

Obama administration officials have criticized the scheme in a stream of sharply worded statements accusing the Israeli government of jeopardizing good-faith negotiations with the Palestinians.

Hillary Clinton spoke at length with Netanyahu by phone on Friday, calling the move a "deeply negative signal" about Israel's approach to its relationship with the US. In an interview on Friday, Clinton also called the move "an insult to the US." SHE SUGGESTED THE MOVE WAS THE WORK OF ELEMENTS WITHIN THE ISRAELI GOVERNMENT [AND THEIR PARTNERS IN THE UNITED STATES] WHO OPPOSE THE CREATION OF AN INDEPENDENT PALESTINIAN STATE.

Israel has agreed to slow construction of settlements in the West Bank but has refused to halt building in East Jerusalem. ISRAEL CONSIDERS EAST JERUSALEM, WHICH IT CAPTURED IN THE 1967 WAR, ITS SOVEREIGN TERRITORY and Netanyahu has spoken frequently in defense of settlements there.

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