Clinton says Israel announcement 'insulting to the United States'

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized Israel today for announcing an expansion of settlements while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country this week.


The announcement forced Biden to issue a statement condemning the decision while in the midst of touring through Israel and meeting with top officials.

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"It was insulting," Clinton told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell in an interview airing today. "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 Israeli people. But it was an insult to the United States."

On Tuesday, Israel approved 1600 new homes in East Jerusalem, where Palestinians feels their land is being encroached on. The U.S. has urged Israel to stop expanding settlements in order to improve the climate for peace talks.

"I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem," Biden said in a statement. "We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was unaware the announcement would come when it did and has apologized to Biden. Israel is considering changes in its law to require a member of the prime minister's office to be present whenever such decisions are made, preventing the miscommunication that led to this week's diplomatic flub. 

Clinton also called Netanyahu on Friday to express the administration's displeasure with the move.