Israeli PM downplays tensions

Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu has
moved to ease tensions with the US, describing the two countries’ relations as
those of “allies and friends”.

Mr. Netanyahu also dismissed
reports one of his confidants called US President Barack Obama a “disaster”
for Israel.

In the wake of a controversial
visit to the US, Mr. Netanyahu said on Friday that his policy on East Jerusalem
would not change, despite US pressure on Israel to announce a freeze on
building Jewish homes there.

A best-selling Israeli newspaper
then quoted an unidentified aide as saying: “You could say that Obama is
the greatest disaster for Israel – a strategic disaster.”

But the prime minister, speaking
before he briefed the cabinet on his US trip, condemned these comments as
“unacceptable”.

“They do not come from anyone
representing me. The relations between Israel and the United States are those
of allies and friends, and are based on tradition spanning many years.”

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