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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soundoff (322 Responses)
  1. eddale

    Anyone that cannot see the disrespect Israel showed the US Governmect has to be blind. But this is what they always do because they know they control the USA Middle East policy.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  2. chris

    say what you want but the fact of the matter is, Israel is acting very headstrong and very cocky. Especially towards their BIG BROTHER (USA) who is the only reason why they have not been wiped off the map by now. Don't bite the hand....

    March 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Bob Senior

    Are there any doubts as to which side the Obama administration politics tilt? This is an absolute disgrace to the American people. The US needs Israel and Israel needs our loyalty.
    When will Obama start handing out terror medals for 911?

    March 15, 2010 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ron San Bruno, Ca

    Sorry for misspelling Iseral, I admit my mistakes and try to correct them as soon as possible, so as not to be misunderstood .Its a good policy don't you think ?

    March 15, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  5. FED_UP_American

    its about time the United States govt officials stood up to the Israeli's. We the taxpayers are fighting their wars, financing their economy, paying the price for their security. I hope the American people finally wake up and realize that the Israeli's are the ones to blame for all our security problems and terrorism. I cant believe its still not evident to all Americans that 9/11 occurred because of Israeli policies towards the Palestinians-we keep supporting EVERY action Israel does regardless of right or wrong...........enough is enough!!! I WANT MY AMERICA BACK!!!

    March 15, 2010 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  6. steve g

    good, it's about time we shake that bad habit called Israel. Nothing but a drain in every way, shape & form.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rich

    Not surprised, the Isrealis knew the Obama administration was not very supportive tio begin with, and knew they had to stand alone when they said they would speak with terrorists Iran/hamas/hizbollah. Then they saw them get led around by thier nose by the terrorists Iran/hamas/hizbollah. Then they send the known foreign policy desciple of the Isreal hating Jimmy Carter to engage on the peace process, the second Biden was involved it was a waste of Isreali time. And noe they are faced with the prospect of having to deal with Iran/Hamas/Hizbollah alone...

    Biden and his foreign policy is for fools...

    March 15, 2010 at 7:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Chris Steinle

    The Romans ran the Jews out of Jerusalem in 70 AD. Why should we do the same?

    March 15, 2010 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  9. vipertonguee

    Why hasn't CNN mentioned the report on the military's concerns regarding Israeli aggression towards the native Palestinians endangering the lives of our troops and our entire mission in the middle east. It's all over the blogs and wouldn't it be an honor to investigate a real story and re-introduce the US public to true, old-fashioned journalism. The kind that kept us informed. The sort of reporting that made American's aware of what was going on in Vietnam. I miss watching real news.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jwp1964

    I'm sure it's nothing to do with the muslim sympathizer in the WH.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff

    Every one is sooo afraid of ISRAEL they will not comment, they [Israelies} disrespect the United State all the time and everyone keeps quiet, if you disagree with their action,they play the ANTI- CARD the only country that can do the US harm and don't feel PAIN is the Jewish State. Come on we created a monster and now we lost control of it, nobody will say anything like the old day in the Soviet Union. Funny how things change the MOUSE controlS the LION,

    March 15, 2010 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff

    Lets make sure nobody likes us...oh yeah, I forgot, that's the plan.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  13. David Katz

    Israel is not serious about peace and it is undermining its relationship with its sole ally on the planet, the USA. This incident shows the hubris of the government of Netanyahu. They believe they can do whatever they want whenever they feel like it. The US needs to put more pressure on the Israelis to live the peace accords. Our US national security depends in large part on peace in the middle east.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  14. t-tony

    I am not of the Jewish faith, but I do understand the principles uppon which Israel was founded.

    Now, if I was in the Israelly's position, I would be very concerned about the US position. Obama, is catering to the muslim nations at the expense of Israel. Obama is totally naive in foreign politics being a first term senator with no bases to occupy the position he currently serves.

    Iran has being laughing all this time counting on naive polititians in the US. The US under Obama is seen as a paper tiger. Now, if the Obama administration does not take a more leading role on containing Iran, Israel is going to attack and then we will have a mess on our hands by lack of leadership.

    I bet Beiden was snubbed on purpose in Israel, to show the US what they think of the current administration.

    It is time for action! Enough talking. There is little time to spare before Iran goes nuclear. The time to take action is now. First sanctions, then if these don't work , naval and air blockade. Time to show the world we are still a leading nation, not a bunch of leftist bureaucrats.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mick

    I am neither a Jew, or Mislim. As an outsider I see Israel as a waring nation that has destroyed the Palestinians for many years. I don't find it a bad thing that the relations between the US and Israel are at an all time low.It's time we in the US started viewing the Israelis for what they are.

    March 15, 2010 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
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