Monday, March 15, 2010

US Israel ties worst in 35 years

Photo: Jerusalem with the Dome of the rock in the background the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, taken on 10 November 2008.

Israel's Ambassador to the US Michael Oren has recently said that ties between the two counties are at their lowest in 35 years, the Israeli media reported following announcement for building 1,600 new homes in occupied Jerusalem. The US is waiting for a formal response from Israel, a strategic ally of the US, to its concerns, as the Palestinian leaders feel that talks with Israel are now doubtful, though Israel's PM said Jewish settlements did not hurt Arabs in East Jerusalem.

"No government in the past 40 years has limited construction in neighborhoods of Jerusalem;" he said, and continued, "Building these Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem does not hurt the Arabs of East Jerusalem or come at their expense."

The two countries’ relations were in tough terrain in 1975, because of a demand from the then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that Israel's Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin withdraw Israeli troops partially from the Sinai Peninsula where they had been stationed since the Six-Day War of 1967.

The status of Jerusalem is one of the main disputes of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and Israel's occupation of East Jerusalem has been criticized by the United Nations and other international bodies. The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as they want it as the capital of their state.

After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War Jerusalem was divided into two parts. The western portion populated mainly by Jews came under Israeli rule, while the eastern portion populated mainly by Arabs came under Jordanian rule.

East Jerusalem refers to parts of Jerusalem captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, and it includes Jerusalem's Old City and some of the holiest sites of Judaism, Christianity and Islam; such as the Temple Mount, Western Wall, Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

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