United States is considering whether to allow a possible United Nations Security Council vote against Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem, the BBC reported late Sunday, citing diplomatic sources, dpa reported.
The scenario, which would require a US abstention in the event of a UN resolution, came up last week in Paris during talks between US and Qatari officials, the BBC reported on its website, citing a diplomat.
In the past, the US has consistently used its veto power in the UN Security Council to block resolutions against Israel.
A US abstention - or even a private threat of abstention - would come amid the worst diplomatic crisis in decades between Israel and the US government.
Tensions have risen between US President Barack Obama's administration and the Israeli government since the visit earlier this month of Vice President Joe Biden to the Middle East, when Israeli officials announced plans to build 1,600 new houses in East Jerusalem.
The announcement of the housing plan derailed indirect peace talks that Israelis and Palestinians had agreed to start under US mediation. Israel's move was widely criticized by the international community, including in the European Union.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Sunday that the diplomatic row between the Israeli government and the US administration is "a disagreement among friends" and called the US the "pillar and cornerstone" of Israeli security.
It is "crucial to remember that the United States is friendly to Israel in a deep and substantial way," he told reporters in a defense briefing.
"We must never lose sight of how important these relations are, or the ability to act in harmony and unity with the United States."