Sunday, March 14, 2010

War on Israel continues! Obama aide David Axelrod: Israeli action was a 'affront' and insult'

(AFP) – Israel's announcement of plans to build 1,600 settler homes in east Jerusalem was not only an "insult" to the United States but "destructive" of the Middle East peace process, a top White House official said Sunday.

"This was an affront, it was an insult but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to that region," said David Axelrod, one of President Barack Obama's closest advisers.

"We have just started proximity talks, that is shuttle diplomacy, between the Palestinians and the Israelis, and for this announcement to come at that time was very destructive," he said on NBC television's Meet the Press show.

Israel's announcement of plans to build the 1,600 housing units in mostly Arab east Jerusalem came March 10 during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden that had aimed to encourage the first indirect Israeli-Palestinian talks since Israel's 2008-2009 offensive in Gaza.

Axelrod's comments were further evidence of the Obama administration's growing frustration with conservative Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Biden himself condemned the east Jerusalem building plan in a sharp statement issued in Jerusalem and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Netanyahu directly in a 43-minute phone call that the announcement sent a "deeply negative" signal about Israel's approach to relations with Washington.

Axelrod said both Biden's and Clinton's words reflected Obama's thinking, and he said he believed Netanyahu had received the message.

On ABC's This Week, Axelrod said, "Israel is a strong and special ally. The bonds run deep. But for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave."