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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Hillary Rodham Clinton's Harsh Words Stun Israel

By Paul Richter
March 14, 2010

Reporting from Washington

Beginning as a spat over a single housing project, a dispute this week between the Obama administration and Israel has ballooned into the biggest U.S.-Israeli clash in 20 years, adding to months of strain between Washington and one of its closest allies.

Israel's decision to move ahead with 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem, announced during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden, drew criticism from Washington in language rarely directed at even Iran or North Korea.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Israel's announcement "was an insult to the United States."

In a 45-minute telephone call Friday to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Clinton upbraided him and demanded that he take more steps to show his nation's commitment to peace.

A senior U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity in the midst of the diplomatic friction, described the administration's objection to the project as "the first time the U.S. has really pushed back hard."

The Israeli government, stunned and perplexed by the U.S. assault, tried to regroup this weekend. Netanyahu convened seven members of his Cabinet on Saturday to consider their response, and his office said a committee would investigate the timing of the housing announcement. LinkHere


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