Israel officials recently announced plans to build of over 1,500 new homes in Ramat Shlomo in East Jerusalem. The settlement plans were disclosed last week during a visit by Vice-President Biden to Israel. According to international law, further settlement construction in East Jerusalem is outlawed; Israel, however, does not recognize the prohibition.
On Sunday, top aide to President Obama, David Axelrod, called the announcement during Vice-President Biden’s an “insult” and predicted that it will have “destructive” implications for the proposed proxy peace talks. The State Department issued statements criticizing the Israeli government, and Palestinian leaders have responded by stating the indirect talks with Israel were now “doubtful.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responding by labeling the announcement was a “bureaucratic mix-up.” He added that the timing was regrettable. However, amid the Prime Minister’s efforts to downplay the recent decline in US-Israel relations, the Israeli Ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, was recently quoted as saying that “Israel’s ties with the US are in the most serious crisis since 1975.” In 1975, then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger demanded Israel partially withdraw troops from the Sinai Peninsula – decreasing the Isreali presence in the area established during the Six-Day War of 1967. The recent settlement plans have only aggravated an already declining climate.
Palestinian officials have threatened to indefinitely stall the newly-proposed proxy talks unless the Ramat Shlomo settlement plans are abandoned. Read more here.