Monday, March 15, 2010
Are we still whining about East Jerusalem?
We've been reading about it for awhile:
Officials: US wants Israel to cancel building plan
"The project caused a storm in Washington because it was announced during Vice President Joe Biden's visit to the region last week, badly embarrassing the U.S. and complicating its efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking."
Okay – the timing was part of the problem but the criticisms have been heavy on the substance. Would this Administration have preferred the announcement right before the Vice President's trip? Right after? Who's kidding who here – this is part of the President's unilateral decision that any settlement freeze is to be a total freeze:
"President Obama "wants to see a stop to settlements -- not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions," Clinton said." U.S. wants no more Jewish settlement growth, Clinton says
But it's not as if Israel has gone rogue on us here – they have quite consistently maintained that Jerusalem is an undivided Israeli city and that settlement freezes will not apply to Israeli cities. Indeed, announcements about building in East Jerusalem have been flowing out of Israel on a regular basis. Finally, this Administration has long maintained that settlement freezes should not be a precondition for any talks.
Also unclear is just why the President is so adamant about East Jerusalem. It's gone from being part of an International City to annexation by Jordan to capture by Israel in 1967 and subsequent annexation by Israel as part of its unification of Jerusalem. Under what post-WWII scenario does the President think East Jerusalem would be part of a Palestinian state?
Instead, Israeli envoy sees historic crisis with U.S.
This settlement freeze nuance that the President has introduced to the process has done little besides give the Palestinians one more talking point towards unsuccessful talks. Israel has apologized for the timing. It's time for the President to call off his attack dogs.