The US is considering abstaining from a possible UN Security Council resolution against Israeli construction in east Jerusalem, the BBC reported on Sunday.
According to the report, the possibility was raised during talks in Paris last week between a senior US official and Qatar's foreign minister, Sheikh Hamad Bin Jasim Al Thani.
A diplomat quoted the senior American official as saying during the meeting that the US would "seriously consider abstaining" if the issue of Israeli settlements was put to the vote.
The US official made the remark after Sheikh Hamad asked him whether Washington would guarantee not to veto a UN Security Council resolution that was critical of Israeli construction in east Jerusalem.
The US, one of five permanent members of the Security Council with veto power, usually blocks Security Council resolutions that condemn Israel,
but relations have been severely damaged since Israel announced
the construction of 1,600 apartments in east Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.
The announcement, which made was during US Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the Jewish state, drew harsh criticism form the Obama Administration.
The Palestinians responded by pulling out of the US-brokered indirect "proximity talks" with Israel.
The US views Israeli building in east Jerusalem, the part of the city claimed by Palestinians as their future capital, as disruptive to Mideast peacemaking. Israel insists the city cannot be divided and says it has the right to build anywhere.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem after capturing it in the 1967 Mideast war, but the move was never recognized internationally. The international community sees Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem as no different from settlements in the West Bank.
Nearly 300,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements, in addition to about 180,000 Israelis living in Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem.
Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked
his cabinet to soften the tone towards US President Barack Obama.
"I have been hearing inappropriate remarks in the media recently with regards to the American president and his administration. Even when there are disagreements – these are disagreements among friends, which are based on a longtime relationship and tradition," Netanyahu he said.
Also on Sunday, a top Obama aide said
the US president did not give Netanyahu the cold shoulder when they met in the White House last week.
Obama met the Israeli leader in the White House on Tuesday but did not dine with his visitor and, by keeping the talks closed to the media, also denied Netanyahu the courtesy of a photo-opportunity with the president.
This raised questions in blogs and at White House news briefings that it was a deliberately calibrated gesture by the administration to communicate its displeasure with Netanyahu over Jewish housing construction in east Jerusalem, which have stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians in the form of US-mediated indirect talks.
"This was a working meeting among friends. And so there was no snub intended," White House senior adviser David Axelrod told CNN's State of the Union news program.
Reuters and AP contributed to the report