Officials: US-Israel crisis over

Sources in J'lem reportedly expect calm tone from Biden during TAU speech.

March 11, 2010 08:30
1 minute read.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Vice Pres

biden netanyahu in jerusalem 311 . (photo credit: Emil Salman / Pool)


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Senior officials in Jerusalem assessed on Thursday that the crisis with the United States over the approval of an east Jerusalem housing project has ended, and told Israel Radio that they expect US Vice President Joe Biden will clarify that Israel-US relations are good during his Tel Aviv University speech later Thursday.

Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser revealed on Thursday morning that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had a harsh talk with Interior Minister Eli Yishai over the announcement of the Ramat Shlomo plans.

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The US, the UN, the Arab League and the Palestinian Authority all slammed Israel for a decision by the Jerusalem District Planning Committee on Tuesday to approve the construction of 1,600 new housing united in the Jewish east Jerusalem neighborhood.

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Netanyahu told Yishai that it was not necessary to advance the plan's approval this week, and instructed the minister to adopt procedures that would prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.

According to a statement by the Prime Minister's Office, Netanyahu spoke with Biden and expressed sorrow over the unfortunate timing of the housing plan's approval. 

The PM explained that the Ramat Shlomo project had gone through different planning phases over the course of several years, and that the final approval stage would probably take more than a year. The actual construction work  will probably only begin in several years' time, he told Biden.

Hauser told Israel Radio on Thursday morning that the announcement by an Interior Ministry committee during Biden's visit was an "embarrassing mistake that must not be repeated.”

The cabinet secretary stressed, however, that construction in Jerusalem would continue since the settlement moratorium doesn’t apply to the capital.

Overnight Wednesday, Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa said Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will not enter indirect peace talks with Israel as planned, due to the approval of the  housing project.

“The Palestinian president has decided that he does not intend to enter negotiations at this stage,” Moussa said at a press conference in Cairo.

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