In what Israel’s ambassador to the United States has called “the most severe crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations” in decades, George Mitchell has indefinitely postponed a planned trip to the Middle East.
At the same time hundreds of Palestinians rioted in East Jerusalem today, hurling rocks at security forces who countered with stun grenades and rubber bullets. Tensions were fuelled by the reopening of landmarked synagogue in Jerusalem’s old city and construction projects near the al Aqsa mosque compound.
As you all know the new round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been scuppered by after Israel’s announcement last week of the construction of 1,600 new housing units in Ramat Shlomo Building project in contested East Jerusalem, a predominantly Arab enclave, during Biden’s recent visit, causing uproar in the obama administration.
Netanyahu, hemmed in by his right wing (and frankly racist) coalition partners, defended the decision on the flimsy basis:
“Construction will continue in Jerusalem as this has been the case over the past 42 years.”
Ah, so occupation and creeping annexation by force majeure becomes more acceptable the longer it goes on. Thanks for that Bibi. No doubt the longevity of Communist oppression in Eastern Europe made it OK.
Maybe Obama has picked the right issue to push back on here. Illegal settlement on the West Bank is one of the least popular issues among Israelis. However, Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the first big foreign policy veterans to back Obama, has been critical of the White House’s stance on this issue.
Obama has not taken on board the internationally-favoured blueprint for peace in Israel and Palestine, involving the sharing of Jerusalem, the resettling of refugees (duly compensated) in Palestine, and land swaps to make up for the Jewish settlements.
If only he had embraced the consensus, writes Brzezinski, “he would have exerted enormous influence on both the Palestinians and the Israelis… So far the Obama team has shown neither the tactical skill nor the strategic firmness needed to move the peace process forward.”
It is often said that only a right wing Government can make peace with the Palestinians – though there seems to be little evidence of this since the tragic assassination of Rabin.
My sense is that Americans, usually Israel’s most staunch and uncritical of allies, have begun to tire of the intransigence of the current administration.
What thinks the Moose?