by Jonathan Rosenblum
No matter how stupid the timing of the
Vice-President Joseph Biden's visit to
The announcement at the outset of Biden's visit of government approval of another 1,600 housing units in Jerusalem's Ramat Shlomo neighborhood undoubtedly handed the Palestinian Authority and a hostile U.S. administration a huge own goal. It allowed the Obama administration to burnish its anti-Israel credibility in the Moslem world with repeated public expressions of outrage; provided the United States and the European Union with the means to ratchet up pressure on Israel for further concessions; and handed the Palestinians an excuse to withdraw from negotiations in which they have no interest, while being able to place the onus on Israel.
Yet no matter how stupid the timing of the announcement, it should have had no substantive impact on the ill-starred proximity talks that had been scheduled to take place. When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced a ten-month freeze on settlement building in late October, in order to entice the Palestinians back to the negotiating table, he explicitly excluded from the freeze building in
Thus any building of new units in Ramat Shlomo, a large fervently-Orthodox neighborhood, was fully within Israeli policy guidelines of which both the
The planned units in Ramat Shlomo would not create new facts on the ground. There is no conceivable scenario in which the 20,000 chareidi residents of Ramat Shlomo would be uprooted from their homes, at least so long as Israel exists. Nor would a slight expansion of Ramat Shlomo's borders preclude an eventual division of the predominantly Arab areas of the city from the rest of
For negotiations with the Palestinians to have any chance of success, the Palestinians must understand that they will not receive everything they want and wind the clock back to 1947.
Feeding Palestinian fantasies cannot be the pre-condition for negotiations between
From the outset of the
THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE NEW UNITS was ill-timed, and Vice-President Biden can be forgiven for initially assuming that it was meant to complicate his visit to
In short, in
Interestingly, no American official ever thought to question the Palestinians commitment to the peace process when Abbas refused to negotiate at all, or saw fit to criticize the Palestinians' for sending negative signals about their commitment to peace when the Palestinian Authority named a public square after Dalal Mughrabi, the architect of the Coastal Road Massacre, in which the first victim was an American citizen, and in which 37 Israeli civilians were killed by terrorists. Nor has the Secretary of State ever hinted that the Palestinians might be showing a bit of ingratitude for the hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid showered upon them by flatly refusing to negotiate with
White House counselor David Axelrod followed along in the same vein. When asked not once but twice by Jake Tapper whether the Israeli announcement of the intention to build additional housing units in Ramat Shlomo "put the lives of American troops at risk," Axelrod did not dismiss the suggestion out of hand. While not specifically adopting Tapper's analysis, he subtly reinforced it by stating that it was important for
As reported in Yediot Ahronot, Vice-President Biden was explicit, albeit private, in this demonization of
That endangers us . . . ," Biden was quoted as telling Prime Minister Netanyahu.
In the course of her scolding of Netanyahu,
Even Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League, a long-time defender of the Obama administration's policy towards Israel, and someone who has gone so far as to accuse critics of President Obama's Mideast policy of latent racism, professed to be "shocked and stunned at the administration's tone and public dressing-down of Israel of future building in Jerusalem." "We cannot remember an instance when such harsh language was directed at a friend and ally of the
The EU, another member of the Quartet, saw in the harsh American response to
What continues to go unnoted by both the Obama administration and the Europeans is that the Palestinians have not moved one iota from their basic positions as of the start of the
Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz speculated that
With all attention focused on the blunder of announcing the new housing units and the American response, another news item at week's end passed almost without notice in
Though Corrie hated
In light of the overheated American response to the blunder of announcing the housing approval during Vice-President Biden's visit and the American embassy's involvement in the Corrie suit, the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) can be forgiven for concluding in a press release last week: "The narrative before this week was that President Obama wasn't properly understood by Israel as a friend. The truth is that he was properly understood."
Jonathan Rosenblum, who wrote this column for Yated Neeman, is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the
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