[tweetmeme] You all know how I feel about having the Vice President welcomed to Israel with a kick in the pants. Here are some other thoughts to mull over. To summarize, Biden is very unhappy, but shouldn’t be surprised because Israel just doesn’t care.
Laura Rozen reports on a closed door meeting between Biden and Netanyahu:
People who heard what Biden said were stunned. “This is starting to get dangerous for us,” Biden castigated his interlocutors. “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.”
The vice president told his Israeli hosts that since many people in the Muslim world perceived a connection between Israel’s actions and US policy, any decision about construction that undermines Palestinian rights in East Jerusalem could have an impact on the personal safety of American troops fighting against Islamic terrorism.
Walt wonders why everyone is surprised that Biden was hung out to dry:
why should anyone be surprised by this sort of “in-your-face” reception? The Netanyahu government has been stonewalling Obama ever since the Cairo speech, and so far the only price they have paid was some tut-tutting that they were being “unhelpful.” Some observers used to maintain that Israeli prime ministers got in trouble at home if they didn’t get along with the U.S. president, but Bibi’s popularity seems to have been enhanced by his spats with Obama and Mitchell. If Biden was expecting a love-fest when he arrived, he just hasn’t been paying attention.
Haaretz reports that in addition to the 1600 houses announced during Biden’s visit, another 50,000 (!) are in the works:
Some 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem neighborhoods beyond the Green Line are in various stages of planning and approval, planning officials told Haaretz. They said Jerusalem’s construction plans for the next few years, even decades, are expected to focus on East Jerusalem
Gideon Levy thanks Eli Yishai for exposing Israel’s determination to avoid peace:
Here’s someone new to blame for everything: Eli Yishai. After all, Benjamin Netanyahu wanted it so much, Ehud Barak pressed so hard, Shimon Peres wielded so much influence – and along came the interior minister and ruined everything.
There we were, on the brink of another historic upheaval (almost). Proximity talks with the Palestinians were in the air, peace was knocking on the door, the occupation was nearing its end – and then a Shas rogue, who knows nothing about timing and diplomacy, came and shuffled all the proximity and peace cards
Jerome Slater demonstrates the shift to the right of Israel and the shift to oblivion of the American and Israeli peace movement:
The prospects for a settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have never been worse, primarily because of the rightward shift of the Israeli government and public opinion and, secondarily, because of the end of hopes that the United States would help “save Israel from itself.” And yes, I assign little or no responsibility to the Palestinians: they are the victims not the perpetrators; the Palestinian political leadership in the West Bank has never been more impressive and more anxious for a two-state peace settlement; and contrary to the standard but ill-informed view, there are strong indications that in the context of a complete Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories and an end to the economic siege and all other forms of Israeli oppression of the Palestinians, Hamas in Gaza would agree to a long-term “truce” that in all likelihood would become a permanent two-state settlement.
Is there any hope at all? The best chance for peace, of course, would be a sea-change within the Israeli public. However, Israeli peace groups have not succeeded in convincing mainstream opinion that their country’s policies are both a moral and a long-term security disaster. For this reason, many on the Israeli left have long hoped for—sometimes surreptitiously, and sometimes quite openly—serious American pressures on Israel to agree to a just and viable peace settlement.
However, the Obama administration’s abandonment of its mild initial efforts to persuade Israel to change its policies has now dashed those hopes and in the absence of a major shift in public and congressional attitudes, there is no chance of change in the traditional US policies of near-unconditional support of Israel. Consequently, the primary function of the leading U.S. peace groups—Americans for Peace Now (APN) and, more recently, J Street.—must be to persuade American opinion that those traditional policies are detrimental both to the best interests of Israel and U.S. national interests.