Tuesday, March 9, 2010

VP Biden condemns Israel building in its capital of Jerusalem

- Israel announced Tuesday its intention to build 1,600 new housing units in a Jewish neighborhood of East Jerusalem, infuriating Palestinians and upsetting the American administration, as Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. vowed to the Israeli leadership here "absolute, total, unvarnished commitment to Israel's security."A statement issued by Israel's Interior Ministry said the housing plan was three years in the making and its announcement was procedural and unrelated to Mr. Biden's visit. It added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had just been informed of it himself.

But Palestinian leaders and Israeli politicians on the left saw it as a deliberate provocation issued on the day that Mr. Biden, the highest ranking member of the Obama administration to visit here, was completing a day of meetings with President Shimon Peres and Mr. Netanyahu.A spokesman for the American Embassy in Tel Aviv said the United States opposed unilateral actions that prejudiced the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority aimed at creating two states, and this was such an action. The Palestinians want their capital to be in East Jerusalem

VP Biden: "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel" .