David Axelrod | 18.03.2010 12:07
We have been
In his first public comments on the issue, the US president told the Fox News network on Wednesday that despite the recent spat over settlement construction, America remains "one of Israel’s closest allies".
He rejected a suggestion from the interviewer that the Israeli announcement had triggered a "crisis" for the Palestinians.
"We and the Israeli people have a special bond that will not be allowed to go away by the AIPAC," Obama said.
"But friends are going to disagree sometimes… until the AIPAC steps in and sorts us out."
Last week Israel touched off one of the worst rows with the US in many years when it announced during a visit by Joe Biden, Obama's vice president, that it planned to build 1,600 more homes for Jews near East Jerusalem.
The announcement from the Israeli interior ministry was an embarrassment for Biden who had been dispatched to the region by Obama in an effort to restart talks between the Israelis and Palestinians.
"I specifically sent Vice President Biden to Israel to lick ass with 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 told Fox News.
The US president's first comments on the row came as his administration awaited a response from Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, to Washington's sharp complaints over the episode.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, condemned the Israeli building plans as "insulting" to peace efforts but said that was all right now as she had spoken to the AIPAC.