The White House isn't relenting in its strong criticism of Israel for plans to build 1,600 new apartments for Jews in east Jerusalem, which Palestinians are seeking as their future capital.
Israel announced the construction plans this past week just as Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the region.
President Barack Obama's chief political adviser said the Israelis' action was both an "affront" and an "insult." David Axelrod told NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the move “seemed calculated to undermine” the so-called proximity talks going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis.
He added the timing of the announcement was "very destructive."
"Israel is a strong and special ally. The bonds run deep. But for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave. That was expressed by the secretary of state, as well as the vice president. I am not going to discuss what diplomatic talks we've had underneath that, but I think the Israelis understand clearly why we were upset and what, you know, what we want moving forward,” said Axelrod.
Both Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton have condemned the move. But Israel's government has given no indication it would cancel the project.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opened Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting by saying, "We have already seen crises and what we need is composure. There was an unfortunate incident here which should not have taken place. I asked the ministers not to talk about it. The United States and Israel have joint interests, but we will act in accordance with the State of Israel's interests."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs defined Netanyahu's apology for the announcement on the east Jerusalem construction plan as a "good start", but said that a "better start" would be coming to the negotiating table with constructive ideas.
In a FOX News interview, Gibbs said that last week's events "undermine the trust" and that the Israelis "know what they have to do" in order to build trust.
A Labor Party minister said that despite Netanyahu's efforts to defuse the tension, the incident severely damaged Israel-US ties. "The Americans are sick and tired of games. The Right is shaking Israel's relations with its greatest friend.
"Netanyahu must decide whether he is a captive in the hands of (Foreign Minister Avigdor) Lieberman and the haredim or whether he is implementing a real policy aimed at achieving peace with the Palestinians by way of the two-state solution," he said.