Sunday, March 14, 2010

PM on US crisis: 'There was an unfortunate incident here, but Let's not get carried away

(Ynet).After receiving a long scolding by US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and after convening the seven-minister forum, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tried on Sunday to convey a calming message: "We opened the newspapers today and read all kinds of commentaries and estimates about the crisis with the United States. I suggest that we avoid getting carried away and calm down."

"We have already seen crises and what we need is composure. There was an unfortunate incident here which should not have taken place. I asked the ministers not to talk about it. The United States and Israel have joint interests, but we will act in accordance with the State of Israel's interests."

Following the ill-timed announcement of Israel's plans to construct 1,600 new housing units in east Jerusalem during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit, Netanyahu on Saturday decided to form a committee comprising senior officials in the aims of preventing such mishaps.

The Likud ministers did not hold their weekly meeting on Sunday, since the prime minister had his hand full with the matter of the budget for the next two years. However, the party's ministers said that they were instructed by Netanyahu not to comment on the latest crisis with the Americans.

"The United States took the matter one step too far. This is a righting government whose position on Jerusalem is well known, and this is the exact same policy that was employed by leftist governments as well," one of the ministers told Ynet, "All the governments built in Jerusalem. They are surely out to get the current Israeli government for unknown reasons."

Another minister backed Netanyahu's remarks, saying, "Despite the embarrassment that the American vice president experienced following the announcement, which was inappropriate and unjustified, things should be put in perspective. This is not a plan for immediate implementation, but a bureaucratic plan. It seems that United States is also trying to create facts ahead of the future process, which aims to end proximity talks in July according the Arab League, while the cabinet's deadline for an end to the West Bank settlement construction freeze is in September."

"Even in the previous democrat US administrations it was clear that a solution to the border dispute includes a sovereign Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs. So what is this pretence and criticism about?"