March 15th, 2010
12:48 PM ET

Report: Israel, U.S. ties worst in 35 years, official says

Israel's ties with the United States are at their worst in 35 years, the country's top envoy to the United States was quoted as saying Monday.

Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to the United States, made the remarks in a conference call to the country's consuls general Saturday night, Israel's Haaretz newspaper reported.

His comments came as the United States harshly criticized Israel for announcing new settlement construction in disputed East Jerusalem territory while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set up a team to investigate the timing of the announcement, which U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called "insulting" to her country.

The United States has asked Israel to "do something significant" to show that it is serious about moving toward negotiations with Palestinians, a U.S. official and an Israeli official told CNN. Specifically, the United States asked Israel to rescind the decision on the settlement project in East Jerusalem, the sources said.

State Department Deputy Secretary James Steinberg delivered that message Friday in a meeting with Oren, and Clinton reiterated it in a phone call with Netanyahu, the sources said.

"It's not about words any more," said the U.S. official, who could not speak on the record because of the sensitive nature of the diplomacy. "We need to see some concrete steps."

Earlier, Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said he could not confirm whether Clinton presented Israel with a set of demands.

Netanyahu was focused on trying to "calm things down," Regev said.

Speaking Monday during an event at the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, Netanyahu argued that such construction has been going on for decades and does not hurt Arabs.

"In the last 42 years, there has not been a government that has limited the building in Jerusalem," he said, citing several suburbs of the city. "The development of these Jewish neighborhoods never hurt in any way the Arabs in East Jerusalem and did not come on account of them."

He added there is broad agreement such neighborhoods will remain part of Israel in a final peace agreement. "We will continue to keep Jerusalem as an open city for all the religions," Netanyahu said," a city where Jews and Arabs, Christians and Muslims live in coexistence, enjoy freedom to worship at their holy sites."

The Israeli announcement of construction in Ramat Shlomo came during Biden's visit last week. It complicated U.S. efforts to set up so-called proximity talks between the Israelis and Palestinians, the latest attempt to nudge the two sides back toward talking directly.

Biden condemned the decision, calling it "a step that undermines the trust we need right now."

–CNN's Kevin Flower contributed to this report.

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  1. Saad Qureshi


    @William and @Logan, wat a stupid reasoning you guys have put up to support your comment. You mean to say that since muslims are in majority and isrealis are in minority so muslims shud leave them. they only own 1% of the land.

    With your stupid reasoning one can also claim that europeans own the 99% of the land and if say in the middle of europe some muslims come and try to do wat isreal is doing in middle east, then they wud be right in doing it. Forcing the already living europeans there to leave that place...after all they only own 1% of the land....

    Thats foolishness....

    March 16, 2010 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Richard G Rummings

    let them kill each other. 2000 years of war says they dont want pease on ethier side

    March 16, 2010 at 12:31 am | Report abuse |
  3. Boiseguy

    Once you take the guilt and emotion out of it, Israel is just another country with interests that are very different than the US interests. Forget all this smoke about "being the only democracy in the Middle East" and rather ask "what are they doing to further the cause of peace?" Announcing plans for further incursion into the Palestinian area on the day the VP is landing seems to be a deliberate test of wills. Like it or not US interests will always have to come first. Shame on those Congressmen who are in the Israeli lobby pocket and shame on that lobby for always screaming "anti-Semite" when anybody disagrees with them. I'm US first and foremost and our Representatives ought to remember their oaths.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  4. Me

    How much land is Israel supposed to be allowed to steal from the Lebanese? I"m just wondering. When is enough land enough? Has anyone else actually looked at maps of how much land Israel has taken from the Lebanese since the 80's? It's like Mexico deciding to take back California, New Mexico, Texas and Arizona!! Except Mexico actually OWNED these states before us.. Israel is just stealing.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
  5. Richard G Rummings


    March 16, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  6. WW2 Vet

    In 1948 the UN partitioned the British mandate of Palestine into Jewish and Arabs states. The Jews agreed; all the Arab states invaded the Jewish section determined to wipe the Jews off the map. Under-manned and under-armed, the Jews defeated all the Arab states and declared the State of Israel. Again the Arabs massed troops on Israel's border in 1967 determined once again to wipe out the Jewish state. Instead they lost the West Bank, the Sinai and the Golan Heights. The Israelis offered land for peace but there were no takers. The Arabs attacked again in 1972 on the holiest day of the Jewish calendar and lost again. But this time Anwar Sadat of Egypt flew to Jerusalem, and eventually got the Sinai back in exchange for a peace treaty. For this he was murdered by his own people and condemned by all the Arab states. Eventually President Clinton got Arafat to sit down with the Israelis and they hammered out a peace deal that was fair to everyone. At the last minute Arafat backed out and the Intifada began. Israel withdrew from its buffer areas in Lebanon and Gaza unilaterally and the response was rocket attacks on Israel. We saw how panicked we Americans got on 9/11. What if we, like the Israelis had a 9/11 every day? Having said that, circumstances on the ground have changed. There is a moderate Palestinian president who wants to negotiate. The Arab states have pledged to sign a peace treaty with Israel if it makes peace with the Palestinians. They ask that Israel suspend its illegal settlements as a good faith gesture to get talks started. If Israel does not separate from the Palestinians soon, there will be more Palestinians than Jews between the Mediterranean and the Jordan in just a few years. If Israel wants to continue to be a Jewish state it needs to run, not walk, to the negotiating table. Otherwise the world will be clamoring for one man, one vote, and Israel will become a pariah apartheid state. That would be a tragedy of historic proportions.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:37 am | Report abuse |
  7. laim shaim

    I see Everybody talking about almost everything, some views make me wonder where they come from when the reality was burning our eyes in many many "events" like:
    * the war in lebanon, *the war in Gaza ( where nobody is allowed to know what really happened), and By PROXY in Iraq and Afghanistan and everywhere our troops are either in combat or stationed(almost)..
    AND in what is going to happen in the near future in Kurdistan and Iran and syria and Sudan.., and Myanmar!!!.
    It is impressive that intellectual blindness is wide spread to the point of achieving 'total Global Control" , the US is simply one link to the monster web. it can be prosper or can "disappear" as per a wish, the only thing that is allowing it to continue existing is the vast Oceans that separates it from the "world" , otherwise it would get pieced up,.. yes that simple , every state will regain "sovereignty" , and the century game is replayed.. as simple as that. look around , in the heart of a freedom country" our country.. who dares to launch a "free" media outlet where any view can be expressed!! who can have a political say without the approval of "Joe lieberman"( if he's not off that day..), who can express any type of thinking that is not legalized by law .etc etc.. Sorry it is tooooooooooooo much to cite..
    Now, the recent undermining statements and actions that started to appear lately should all come together to the light, that way you can add up the facts and make a serious one.. :
    -That day, the Turkish ambassador was humiliated like never ever happened ( why shouldn't we start thinking about abolishing the "diplomacy' factor from the world relations that has allowed that action to simply happen!!),
    -that day , the most sophisticated passports of the most advanced countries in the world have been faked !!!( wow),( the assassination of the Palestinian guy). I bet no one will be prosecuted, and everybody will get to know where the killers will be .No country will be able to do anything.!!. it's all noise. ask any media mogul how that noise will be lowered until it's off.!!
    -that day, our Vice president was humiliated like they used to declare wars for.. He (unfortunately) was TOLD to protest the move 'softly". otherwise it looked like he wouldn't care, or may be he wouldn't have understood. (Sorry for the soul of our country)
    -in few days , expect the congress to come up with "a package " of some trillion dollars of our working class tax dollars to Israel to help them face the dangers of the region, such as the nuclear danger of Iran() and allow part of the package to celebrate the opening of the 3rd nuclear reactor() that nobody is legally allowed to ask anything about !! BUT we still have to nuke Iran!!
    _in few days expect an outrageous counter attack from the lobbies to " ADJUST THE MATTER"
    AND from the white house , expect the officials to say : we've fixed the matter and we're happier ever since..
    God Bless our thousands of " poor soldiers" and Bless our Media.. and our money and the living truth.
    Anybody can get it yet? or the moderator has an other say in the land of freedoms.


    March 16, 2010 at 12:39 am | Report abuse |
  8. joe from kansas

    we are comparing building on there own land to terrorists who shoot rockets at them everyday two very different acts either a lot of antisemitism or flawed reasoning

    March 16, 2010 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. Bill Curry

    Dick Chenny and his Jewish congressmen friends fooled us into invading Iraq cause Isreal felt scared by Sadam's paper tiger million men army.

    We lost 5,000 of our finest boys and another 50,000 lost limbs just make Isreal feel secure and this is what we get in return. Not to mention trilions of Dollars we gave to Dick's Haliburton under no contest contractgs.

    I salute Hilary Clinton for having the courage to protect America's honor even when it is under attack by Isreal whom we give billions of dollars to kill Palestaniens and another billions of dollars to Egypt, Jordan and other countries in the region to keep their eyes and ears closed and their people suppressed so that they do not even speak out against the persecution of Palestaniens.

    Mr. President we need those billions of dollars very badly at home.

    Has any one yet figured out that while Dick had us focused on the cave man, Jews moved all the manufacturing and wealth to China, India and other countries leaving our banks to collapse and economy to crash. If not yet, soon most of us will figure it out and will thank Dick Cheney and his gang of Jewish congressmen for making us bankrupt.

    Bill Curry

    March 16, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  10. mitch

    I don't understand, why don't the Jordanians, Egyptians, Syrians, Lebanese who are arabs....why don't they help their fellow palestinian arabs. Since 1948 jews from the diaspora have given funds and service to israel in many forms, taking a desolate land and turning it into a place where jews can call a home. Maybe there is something about the palestinian people that their brethren find revolting, otherwise they would help their own kind. The world should condemn arabs for not helping their own.

    I think Israel should break ties with the US and stop taking US money and try to be more independent from the world, cause at the end of the day it's only the Creator who we can trust to keep us from the enemy. The Romans fell, the ancient Greeks, the Assyrians, the Babylonians...i could go on, and even one day it could be America, who can say anymore...but rest assured G-D's world was created for his children to praise Him, and the jew will always be the last man standing. That is everlasting to everlasting.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Brad

    I just read in the news that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday settlement building in east Jerusalem would continue despite the current crisis with US. This is a big insult to US Government and our people. The radical government in Israel is destroying the long time relation between US and Israel and now our congressmen are blaming US government for this. I have no Idea if they are getting their salary from Israel government or from our Taxes. I think they should put America's interest first and not because of their religious believe take the side with Israel. This is a big test to show who is real American and who is in congress just to protect foreign government interests. For me Israel, Iran, Palestine, Germany, Russia are all same. FIrst we need to protect our government and our interest and not a government that Insults our Vice president and continue to bully our country.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jester

    why would Israel listen to America, this girl friend of America will always dictate America, If the holocaust happened in Europe, why do the middle east and Palestinians have to pay the price?

    March 16, 2010 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rob

    The Isreali government has taken the United States for granted for many years.

    It is long past time that the U.S. took a tougher stance with this regime that thinks it can get away forever with building illegal houses on occupied land.

    Hopefully the US will not bow to the massive pressure it will no doubt get from the "Isreal can do no wrong" crowd.

    March 16, 2010 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. Brad

    Like it or not US interests will always have to come first. Shame on those Congressmen who are in the Israeli lobby pocket and shame on that lobby for always screaming "anti-Semite" when anybody disagrees with them. I'm US first and foremost and our Representatives ought to remember their oaths.

    Boiseguy , Great comments. We are American's and we are not going to let any other country insult our vice president ...

    March 16, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
  15. Martin

    This is only a very small part of over 3,000 years relationship between Israel and the Arabs. Presently, Israel is strong and powerful (Politically, Influence, etc.). But as part of over 3,000 years, it can shift to the Arabs in no time (who knows).

    Some (who does not review history) would say it will never happen. But unfortunatelly the tilting of power does shift and time will allow it to shift....

    The Arabs had their time before, now it is Israel's time.
    Goodluck in the future....

    March 16, 2010 at 12:55 am | Report abuse |
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