US Relations with the Muslim World: Biden Condemns Israeli Settlement Plan in East Jerusalem
Huffington Post/AP, March 9, 2010
JERUSALEM -- Israel approved the construction of 1,600 new homes for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem on Tuesday - a move that immediately clouded a visit by Vice President Joe Biden aimed at repairing strained ties and kickstarting Mideast peace talks.
The Interior Ministry announced the construction plans just as Biden was wrapping up a series of warm meetings with Israeli leaders.
Biden issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon in response:
I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I've had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them. This announcement underscores the need to get negotiations under way that can resolve all the outstanding issues of the conflict. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians and for Jews, Muslims and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem and safeguards its status for people around the world. Unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations on permanent status issues. As George Mitchell said in announcing the proximity talks, "we encourage the parties and all concerned to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks.
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