Washington (CNN) – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday dismissed the view that relations between the United States and Israel is in crisis after a row between the two countries over settlements.
"Oh I don't buy that," Clinton told reporters at the State Department. "We have an absolute commitment to Israel's security. We have a close, unshakable bond between the United States and Israel and between the American and Israeli people."
An Israeli official earlier confirmed to CNN that Israel's ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, had told his fellow Israeli diplomats that relations between the two countries were "in a crisis."
Clinton said the U.S. had expressed its "dismay and disappointment" after Israel's announcement that it was allowing construction of 1,600 settler housing units in East Jerusalem.
Clinton said that U.S. and Israeli officials are in intense talks "over steps that we think would demonstrate the requisite commitment to this process" and that the U.S. is waiting for a response from Israel on steps it is willing to take. She did not, however, say when or how that response would be conveyed.
"We'll see what the next days hold," she said. "There's just too much at stake for the Palestinians and the Israelis…our goal now is to make sure that we have the full commitment from both our Palestinian and Israeli partners to this effort."
The importance of regaining progress in Arab-Israeli talks was underscored by General David Petraeus who oversees US military operations in the Middle East. While Palestine is not part of Petraeus' area of operation, he told a Congressional committee in his prepared remarks that there has been "insufficient progress" towards peace.
"The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples," Petraeus said in his prepared testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.