Obama Slams Palestinian Protests, Rejects Israeli Row

'US President Barack Obama condemns Palestinian protests in Jerusalem al-Quds over Israeli provocations near al-Aqsa Mosque as 'destructive to peace' while downplaying reported row with the Israeli regime over Tel Aviv's continued settlement expansions, denying reports that US-Israeli ties are in a state of crisis.
In a quick turn of face, under reportedly intense pressure from the wealthy Israeli lobby in the US, Obama, whose top administration officials described Israeli settlement expansion plans as 'insulting and destructive to peace efforts,' rejected tensions with Tel Aviv as 'friendly disagreements' and, instead, denounced the Palestinians for reacting against intimidating Israeli moves to Judaize al-Quds.'
"Friends are going to disagree sometimes," said Obama Wednesday in his first official reference to Tel Aviv's plans to erect 1,600 new settlement units near East al-Quds, in grave violation of the regime's past commitments to freeze settlement expansion.

"Israel's one of our closest allies, and we and the Israeli people have a special bond that's not going to go away," Obama reiterated in a rare interview with ultra-conservative Fox News Channel, a prime critic of the Obama Administration.  

However, critics took the row with some skepticism arguing that it was intended to avert international attention from Israeli "Judiazation" of East al-Quds which hosts a number of major Islamic sanctities, including the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Some 50 Palestinians were wounded on Tuesday, dubbed by Hamas as Palestine's day of rage, as thousands of protesters poured into streets across al-Quds to condemn Tel Aviv's falsification of history and efforts to take away the city's Palestinian and Islamic identity.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, top US commander Gen. David Petraeus described the Arab-Israeli conflict as one of the "root causes of instability" and "obstacle to security" in the Middle East, warning that it would further the anti-American sentiments in the region and limit America's strategic partnerships with Arab governments.

"Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the [Middle East] and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world," he said in a written testimony.

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