[QODLink]
Americas
Perceived Israel bias 'hurts US'
Senior US general says "perception of US favouritism for Israel" hurts Washington.
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2010 03:58 GMT

The US commander overseeing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has warned that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is damaging the image of Washington in the eyes of Arabs.

General David Petraeus, who heads US Central Command, said in a written statement to the US Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday that the situation "foments anti-American sentiment due to a perception of US favouritism for Israel".

"Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples" in the region, he said.

"Clearly the tensions, the issues and so forth have an enormous effect. They set the strategic context within which we operate."

Petraeus said that the worsening conflict "weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world".

He also said al-Qaeda and other groups sought to "exploit" Arab anger over the issue and that the conflict "gives Iran influence in the Arab world" through its "clients" Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Disagreement

Petraeus' comments highlight concerns among senior US officers as they draw down US forces in Iraq, increase the number in Afghanistan and prepare for a possible showdown with Iran over its nuclear programme.

They come amid one of the worst public disagreements between Israel and the US over Israel's announcement that it would build 1,600 new housing units in a Jewish settlement in an area of east Jerusalem by Israel.

Senior administration officials, including Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state, and David Axelrod, an adviser to President Barack Obama, have called the timing of the announcement – made during a visit by Joe Biden, the vice-president - insulting and destructive to US efforts to broker peace.

Petraeus told Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, that the process, which has been further stalled by the Israeli move, was hurting Washington's credibility in the region.

"My thrust has generally been, literally, just to encourage that process that can indeed get ... a sense of progress moving forward in the overall peace process because of the effect that it has on particularly what we would term the 'moderate' governments in our area," he said in his statement.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Muslim volunteers face questioning and threat of arrest, while aid has been disrupted or blocked, charities say.
Six months on, outrage and sorrow over the mass schoolgirl abduction has disappeared - except for families in Nigeria.
ISIL combatants seeking an 'exit strategy' from Mideast conflict need positive reinforcement back home, analysts say.
European nation hit by a wave of Islamophobia as many young fighters join ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
Featured
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Since she was 16-years-old, Scottish Nationalist Party's Sturgeon has strove for independence from the UK.
Armed group's ransom success with German hostages marks a re-emergence, as authorities investigate ISIL links.
Western nations are moving into the resource-rich country after decades of disinterest, challenging China's interests.