by Moshe Arens
So sorry! Very sorry! Very, very sorry! We apologize! This will never happen again! The prime minister, cabinet members and senior bureaucrats repeated this over and over again last week in an attempt to set right what seemed to them to have been a major blunder, one they thought had spoiled what should have been a dramatic goodwill visit by the vice president of the
The government's critics in the media had a field day. According to them the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee to approve plans for putting up additional houses in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, just as Biden was arriving in the country, was ruining relations between the United States and Israel and causing irreparable damage to strategic cooperation between the two countries. Listening to them, one might have thought that if some years from now historians try to determine why the U.S. administration did not take any effective action to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, they will find that the responsibility lay on the shoulders of a minor Israeli civil servant who set the agenda of a local planning committee for that fateful day.
Since it was well known in
"Timing" is important when investing in the stock market, but it is of little relevance here. There is no substitute for the truth when dealing with friends and allies. And the truth in this case is that while the Israeli government has frozen construction in Judea and
Throughout the U.S.-Israeli relationship there have been disagreements on certain issues. They are inevitable, even among the best of friends. But generally, the disagreements have not been taken public, but have been discussed in confidential exchanges between representatives of the two governments. U.S. President Barack Obama, however, has taken a new approach, which he signaled at his speech last June in
The rationale of this approach was presumably to accelerate the negotiations between
Now, after the statements made by Biden in Israel, followed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's public rebuke of Netanyahu, he will demand the cessation of construction in Jerusalem, and possibly even the freezing of all planning activity regarding future construction as a condition for beginning negotiations with Israel. As the saying goes, "why make it difficult, when with a little effort you can make it impossible?" This is hardly the way to advance the peace process.
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