Israel, US in Worst Crisis in 35 Years

White House presses Netanyahu to stop construction
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 15, 2010 8:55 AM CDT
Activists run for cover as Israeli soldiers, not seen, throw stun grenades during a demonstration against new construction in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank, March 14, 2010.   (AP Photo/Tara Todras-Whitehill)
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(Newser) – The US is pressuring Israel to scrap its plans to build 1,600 new apartments in East Jerusalem, in what Israel’s ambassador to the US called “ the most serious crisis since 1975” in US-Israeli relations. The US wants the project killed, according to Israeli officials, both because East Jerusalem has been pegged as the future capital of a Palestinian state, and because the project’s announcement itself was deeply embarrassing, coming during a visit from Joe Biden.

The Israeli ambassador says that Jewish groups in the US have received orders “from the highest level in Jerusalem,” to mobilize lobbyists to make nice with Congress. Benjamin Netanyahu has apologized for the timing, blaming it on a “bureaucratic mix-up,” but he hasn’t backed down from the plan itself. Meanwhile, tensions are high in Jerusalem, with police out in large numbers in the Old City, expecting clashes.

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