Israel's view of US-Israeli tensions

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JEB SHARP: I'm Jeb Sharp, this is The World. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Moscow today, but Israel is still near the top of her agenda. From Moscow Secretary Clinton described the current tensions between the U.S. and Israel as a challenge. She was referring to the diplomatic bickering that has followed an announcement last week by Israel. It involved plans to build 1,600 new Jewish homes in East Jerusalem. This, despite Washington's opposition to Israeli construction on land claimed by Palestinians and despite Vice President Biden's presence in Israel on the day of the announcement. Natasha Mozgovaya is Chief U.S. Correspondent for the Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz. Natasha, tell us how you're covering the story this week. What's your angle?

NATASHA MOZGOVAYA: Actually from a rhetorical standpoint that the scandal is already behind us. The harshest Russians, I think have anger here in Washington - - on the weekend and since then first the U.S. administration and then Israel started to downscale the conflict. So basically for four days we had just a snowball rolling because different organizations lobbies started to pour in and ask their constituencies to write to the Congressmen, to write to the White House. You know we had left wing - - lobby, we had APEC, we had Christians for Israel and we are talking about thousands and thousands of letters. Basic statements were made during the weekend. And then it was just the aftermath.

SHARP: But if you pull back from that aftermath, do you still think this is a watershed moment? Or do you think it's more of a media driven tempest in a teapot.

MOZGOVAYA: I don't think it was media driven because if we can go back to Sunday's statements that it was insults on the part of Israel and that Israel needs to show it's commitment to the relationship and not only to the process so we can clearly see that it could be on the brink of some more serious statements. For example, maybe a threat to cut military aid or refusal to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu during his visits - - to Washington. But in approximately two days we had already all the efforts to put it back to disagreement between friends and denials that we are talking about. I think State Department spokesman reverted his statement and said that we never used actually the word crisis. It was someone is Israel who used it. And then the Israeli ambassador to Washington said well he never used this word either. His words were distorted while he was talking in a closed briefing. But still we had those open statements that could be a sign of something bigger coming on. But it was a really unfortunate moment to engage in a conflict.

SHARP: And do you see any difference between the way this rift is reported here versus in Israel?

MOZGOVAYA: I think the Israelis were pretty harsh on the Israeli government because it was extremely - - timing and the Vice President's visit was widely anticipated. The timing seemed so suspicious that it was really hard to believe that such a delicate issue the Prime Minister didn't know what was going on. But later, after we saw the first harsh announcements by the American administration, we start feeling once again the sentiment that we saw after President Obama's election. Israel might not like settlements, but they don't like the American pressure as well. And Netanyahu once again succeeded somehow to play this card.

SHARP: And when you say they don't like American pressure as well, what can you say about Israeli attitudes toward President Obama and the Obama administration in particular?

MOZGOVAYA: Fortunately I think the relationship wasn't built on trust since the beginning. Maybe it was due to the President's outreach to their Arab and Muslim world, which was welcomed at first by the left, but then even the left analyst said where is their similar gesture directly to the Israeli public? And since then it hasn't changed much. The mixture of personal mistrust, some sentiments that the Israeli government seemed to put into this relationship, right now the Israelis are not quite sure that President Obama is a real supporter of Israel.

SHARP: Natasha Mozgovaya is the Washington Bureau Chief for the Israeli newspaper Ha'Aretz, thank you so much for your time.

MOZGOVAYA: My pleasure.

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