Clinton, to speak at AIPAC conference
Photo: AFP
AIPAC on his side
Photo: Ariel Jerozolimski

AIPAC: US-Israel tension matter of serious concern

American Israel Public Affairs Committee issues statement expressing concern following recent crisis over east Jerusalem construction, calls on Obama administration to 'take immediate steps to diffuse tension with Jewish state'

WASHINGTON - The American Israel Public Affairs Committee issued a statement on Monday expressing "serious concern" over the US administration's recent remarks on its ties with Israel.


AIPAC's statement was issued just one week before the opening of its annual conference, in which US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is slated to serve as the keynote speaker. Clinton gave Israel its harshest reprimand from an American official in the past 20 years in her telephone conversation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, and in two television interviews.


The crisis broke out following Israel's announcement to construct 1,600 new housing units in east Jerusalem during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.


Choosing to work behind the scenes, AIPAC generally highlights the US and Israel's common interests, instead of directly confronting President Barack Obama's administration. But in its statement Monday the organization took a different approach and demanded the US president "take immediate steps to diffuse the tension with the Jewish state."


The statement read: "The Obama administration's recent statements regarding the US relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern," and hoped to remind the US that "Israel is America's closest ally in the Middle East. The foundation of the US-Israel relationship is rooted in America's fundamental strategic interest, shared democratic values, and a long-time commitment to peace in the region."


The statement stressed that "those strategic interests, which we share with Israel, extend to every facet of American life and our relationship with the Jewish state, which enjoys vast bipartisan support in Congress and among the American people."


The organization asked that the administration "make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel."


AIPAC further expressed concern that the escalation in the diplomatic crisis in recent days may serve as a "distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done to with regard to the urgent issue of Iran's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors."


The group urged the Obama administration to work closely with Israel "in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments."


Meanwhile, in a conference call with Israel's consul generals around the US, Ambassador Michael Oren described the situation as a "very serious crisis". He did not get into detail with regards to the Americans' demands, but instructed the consuls to speak to the media to explain Israel's point of view and try to lighten the criticism.


Yedioth Ahronoth on Monday quoted the ambassador as saying: "Israel's ties with the US are in the most serious crisis since 1975."


פרסום ראשון: 03.15.10, 08:02
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