U.S. General David Petraeus said on Wednesday that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was fomenting anti-American sentiment due to the perception of U.S. favoritism towards Israel.
Speaking to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Petraeus explained that "enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the area of responsibility."
"Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples [in the region]," Petraeus said.
His comments follow a week of tense relations between Israel and the U.S. following Israel's announcement of plans to build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem, which was made public while U.S. Vice President Joe Biden was visiting the country.
On Sunday, another prominent member of Barak Obama's government, chief political adviser David Axelrod, said ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was imperative for U.S. security.
Speaking on Israel's announcement about building in East Jerusalem, Axelrod hinted that it was a deliberate attempt to thwart indirect talks with the Palestinians.
"It was an insult, but that's not the most important thing," Axelrod added, saying that the move was disruptive to upcoming proximity talks with the Palestinians and that the approval during Biden's visit "seemed calculated to undermine that, and that was - that was distressing to everyone who is promoting the idea of peace and security in the region."
Responding to the possibility that Israel's move could have any effect on U.S. soldiers in the region, Axelrod said that he believed "that that region and that issue is a flare point throughout the region, and so I'm not going to put it in those terms."
However, the top Obama aide added that he did "believe that it is absolutely imperative, not just for the security of Israel and the Palestinian people, who were, remember, at war just a year ago, but it is important for our own security that we move forward and resolve this very difficult issue."
Axelrod said that the bond between Israel and the United States was "strong," but adding that "for just that very reason, this was not the right way to behave."
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