U.S. Vice President Joe Biden made an appearance at Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner in Washington upon his return from the Middle East this week, taking the opportunity to describe his disappointing visit to the audience.
"I just got back from five days in the Middle East," Biden said. "I love to travel, but it's great to be back to a place where a boom in housing construction is actually a good thing," he said. Israel announced during Biden's visit that it had approved construction of 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem, a move which the U.S. called an "insult" due to its timing.
United States President Barack Obama said Wednesday that there was no crisis in ties with Israel, despite a high-profile diplomatic feud over the approval of construction.
Interior Minister Eli Yishai gave approval for the construction hours after Biden spoke about Obama's commitment to Israel's security in the face of what both countries see as threats from Iran.
Obama said in the interview that he had sent Biden to the region at a moment when the United States was trying to restart talks between Israelis and the Palestinians.
"I specifically sent Vice President Biden to Israel to send a message of support and reassurance about my belief that Israel's security is sacrosanct and that we have a host of shared interests," Obama said. "There is a disagreement in terms of how we can move this peace process forward."
He added: "The actions that were taken by the interior minister in Israel weren't helpful to that process. Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged as much and apologized for it."
"What we need right now is both sides to recognize that it is in their interests to move this peace process forward."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday called the timing of the move a "bureaucratic mishap".
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