By Mark Memmott

After reports earlier this week that he had said U.S.-Israeli relations were experiencing a "crisis of historic proportions",
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren said he had been "flagrantly misquoted."

This morning, All Things Considered host Robert Siegel asked Oren just how badly diplomatic relations were damaged after Israel announced -- during a visit to that country by Vice President Joe Biden last week -- that it plans to build more homes in east Jerusalem.

Oren said he thinks of the contretemps as a "flap."

"But flaps happen quite often in relationships, even between the closest countries," Oren added. "The great litmus of our relationship with the United States is not whether we agree on anything, and ... the difference between Israel and American policy on Jerusalem goes back not just to 1967 but to 1948 and we've had this alliance for 60-some odd years and remained intensely close allies in spite of those differences."

Here's a bit of their conversation on that point:

Much more from the interview will be on today's edition of ATC. Click here to find an NPR station near you that broadcasts or streams the show. Later, the as-aired version of the interview will be posted here.

Earlier today, diplomats from the so-called Quartet (USA, Russia, European Union and U.N.)

"Called on Israel and the Palestinians to return to peace negotiations with a goal of reaching a final settlement that would create an independent Palestinian state within 24 months. They reiterated their condemnation of Israel's latest move to add Jewish housing in disputed east Jerusalem but did not escalate criticism of the Jewish state." (Associated Press)

Update at noon ET, March 30: The word "disputed" has been deleted from the post -- previously we said "disputed east Jerusalem." That word is unnecessary.

categories: Foreign News, Foreign Policy

1:42 - March 19, 2010