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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ruffled some feathers this week with her sharp criticism of Israel after the Israeli government announced a new wave of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem on the first day of a visit by Vice President Joe Biden.
"It was insulting," Clinton said in an interview with MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "And it was insulting not just to the vice president, who certainly didn't deserve that. He was there with a very clear message of commitment to the peace process, solidarity with the Isreali people. But it was an insult to the United States."
Clinton also called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to express her displeasure, the State Department said.
Netanyahu, who met personally with Biden, has said he did not know beforehand that Israel's interior ministry was about to announce approval of 1,660 new homes in East Jerusalem, an area of religious significance to the many Palestinians who live there.
In Washington, Clinton's comments got the attention of the Anti-Defamation League. "We are shocked and stunned at the administration's tone and public dressing down of Israel," the ADL's Abraham Foxman said. "We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the United States."
The dust-up between the two countries comes as the U.S. attempts to broker "proximity" talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in a bid to restart serious negotiations toward establishment of a Palestinian state. The U.S. has called for a freeze on new settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
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