Following US criticism over Jewish construction in east Jerusalem, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (Yesha) sent a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, describing the over 3,000-year-old historical connection between Jews and the capital. Related: Congress stresses support for Israel
“The Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Arabs, the Ottomans and the British – none of them could undermine the connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem,” reads the letter, published Wednesday. “Therefore, the demand not to build in Jerusalem or to hand parts of the city to others is totally unacceptable for the Jewish people. We will not negotiate over Jerusalem, we will never divide it.”
Meanwhile, Israel's ambassador to Washington denied remarks that have fueled the current Israel-US crisis.
Michael Oren had been quoted as saying that relations were at a 35-year-low after Israel announced a plan to build 1,600 housing unit in east Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the region last week.
On Tuesday evening, Oren issued a statement flatly denying that account of a conference call he had Saturday night with Israeli diplomats.
"I was flagrantly misquoted about remarks I made in a confidential
briefing this past Saturday," Oren said in a statement. "Recent events
do not - I repeat - do not represent the lowest point in the relations
between Israel and the United States. Though we differ on certain
issues, our discussions are being conducted in an atmosphere of
cooperation as befitting long-standing relations between allies. I am
confident that we will overcome these differences shortly."
In related news, the New York Times
on Wednesday cited an administration official as saying that Biden and
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke by telephone on Tuesday
evening. It was not clear what the two men talked about, the report
said. The PMO confirmed the report.
Meanwhile, President Shimon Peres on Wednesday spoke in conciliatory tones on the US-Israel tensions in a talk with high-school students in Holon.
"I don’t think the United States and Israel want any sort of tension," the president said. "There is a great amount of friendship between the states… I think an understanding should be reached as soon as possible."
"Previous governments built [for Jews] in Jewish neighborhoods… but refrained from building in the Arab neighborhoods," Peres continued, adding that to his understanding, this administration would also keep from doing so.