Israel Apologizes for ‘Regrettable Incident,’ Over Biden’s Visit, But U.S. Wants More
March 15, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized on Sunday for the international diplomatic snafu with the United States, during Vice President Biden’s visit to the Jewish state last week, but he still plans to continue with Jewish settlements. Right before Biden arrived to mediate the beginning of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, the government announced plans “to build 1,600 new housing units for Jews” in Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. In response to the news, the Palestinians left the talks before they even began. Biden condemned Israel’s actions and the Obama administration considered the Jewish nation’s behavior, on the eve of scheduled peace talks, an insult.
The U.S. considers Israel’s expansion of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem to be illegal and the country’s annexation of the area, after the 1967 Mideast war, has not been internationally recognized. Both Israel and the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their holy capitol, and neither side is about to give it up:
“The fate of east Jerusalem is the most explosive issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel captured the area in the 1967 Mideast war and considers the entire city its capital. Netanyahu has said he will never agree to share control of the holy city.The Palestinians claim the eastern sector — home to sensitive Jewish, Christian and Muslim holy sites — as the capital of a future state that would include the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Netanyahu told his Cabinet Sunday that the ill-timed settlement announcement is under investigation and he regrets it, but not enough to stop the Jewish settlement expansion in East Jerusalem. “There was a regrettable incident that was done in all innocence and was hurtful, and which certainly should not have occurred,” Netanyahu said. But he also told his Cabinet, “not to get carried away and to calm down.” “We will act according to the vital interests of the state of Israel,” he said.
The Obama administration viewed Netanyahu’s “regret” as a start in thawing the strained relations between the two governments, but say if Israel was truly apologetic, the nation would resume peace talks in good faith with its neighbors.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the apology was merely a “good start.”