The United States' commitment to the security and future of Israel was “rock solid, unwavering, enduring and forever,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said at a speech to AIPAC, an Israel lobby.
However, she cautioned Israel saying that today it was “confronting some of the toughest challenges in her history.” In particular, the conflict with the Palestinians and with Israel's Arab neighbours was an obstacle to prosperity and opportunity for Israelis, Palestinians and people across the region, she said.
Her comments come at an uncertain time for U.S.-Israel relations. Earlier this month, Vice-President Joe Biden and U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell were in Jerusalem and Ramallah to take forward plans for indirect peace talks, the first in over a year, between Mr. Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Yet in what appeared to be a snub to Mr. Biden and Mr. Mitchell, the Israeli Interior Ministry announced that permission had been granted for 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. In a strongly worded reaction Mr. Biden said, “I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.”
Both sides have since sought to downplay the frictions over the floundering talks initiative. On Monday Ms. Clinton, however, reminded AIPAC that that conflict with Palestine threatens Israel's long term future as a secure and democratic Jewish state, and “The status quo is unsustainable for all sides.” Ms. Clinton warned that staying on this course means continuing a conflict that carries tragic human costs in terms of “more violence and unrealised aspirations”