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Israeli-US relations reportedly "worst in 35 years"

Michael Oren [file picture]
Israeli Ambassador to the US Michael Oren

Israeli media has reported today that ties between the country and the US have reached a 35 year low, and should be considered in crisis.

The problems between the two nations last week, as Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel for the beginning of indirect peace talks between Israel and Palestinian officials.  On the same day that Biden arrived, Israeli officials announced the building of 1,600 new homes in occupied East Jerusalem.

Since the announcement, Palestinian officials have decried the move as negative to the peace process and have said that indirect peace talks are now "doubtful."

Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, told a conference call with Israeli consuls general in the US that "the crisis was very serious and we are facing a very difficult period in relations", the Israeli media reported on Monday.

Ynet, an Israeli news website, reported that Mr Oren was summoned to the State Department and was reprimanded about the affair on Friday.

Ambassador Oren was quoted as saying that "Israel's ties with the US are in the most serious crisis since 1975".   Haaretz news claims that the quote was leaked to them by four of the Israeli consuls general following the conference call on Saturday.

According to the news agency, Oren was instructed to lobby members of the US Congress and Jewish community leaders to let them know that Israel had meant no offense in the announcement.

However, top Obama aid, David Axelrod, said that the move on the part of Israel overshadowed VP Biden's visit and was an "insult" to the US.  Axelrod also asserted that the move to expand settlements in Jerusalem was "destructive" to peace efforts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the announcement was a "bureaucratic mix-up" and that he "deeply regretted" the timing of it.

Close to 500,000 Jews live in more than 100 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The settlements are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.

In the end, the world is once again witnessing yet another breakdown in peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.  The saga will undoubtedly continue, US backing of Israel will return fully, and the region will remain in strife.

Until both sides decide to actually give-up something in negotiations, all further attempts to gain peace are pointless.  US public support for Israel may continue to decline, as the Israeli's continue to attempt to build and populate as a means to push the Palestinians out of the area.  This will ultimately fail, as anyone may logically conclude, but the US government will support this ally in a region that is for the most part hostile to the US and West.

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