Washington is standing firm as US relations with Israel hit a “crisis of historic proportions” over a dispute about Israel’s plans to expand a settlement in east Jerusalem. The White House refused to back down yesterday, stalling peace talks. “As Palestinians threatened to boycott future talks Michael Oren, Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, was quoted as warning that relations between the countries were “in their worst crisis since 1975 — a crisis of historic proportions”. In 1975 President Ford pressed Israel to withdraw from Sinai. History was also invoked by Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, who refused to cancel a project to build 1,600 homes in east Jerusalem, saying that building would continue as ‘has been the case over the past 42 years’. The Obama Administration is still smarting over the announcement of the project during the visit to Israel last week of Joe Biden, the Vice-President. Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, has called the programme and its timing insulting to the US. Her remarks were echoed by senior White House officials who spoke of Israel’s affront to Washington, after Mr Biden’s effort to restart peace talks was sabotaged by the prospect of settlements in districts claimed by the Palestinians for their future capital.”
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