Sorry, Israel, you are on your own. President Obama made the demand at the very beginning of his administration that Israel halt all creation of new settlements. Now, he has doubled down and gone out of his way to insult a visiting Prime Minister. Not just any Prime Minister - the Prime Minister of our greatest ally in the Middle East. Perhaps our only ally in the Middle East, certainly until Iraq is more secure and grows stronger.
The brouhaha that grew into an international incident started as VP Biden and Dr/Mrs Biden went to Israel for a visit to the government officials. They arrived to a dinner two hours late with the Prime Minister. Along the way, an announcement by a middle management level of government minister proclaimed the new construction agreement of apartments in east Jerusalem. Netanyahu was unaware that the announcement was to be made at that time. He apologized for the inconvenience of the remarks but didn't say the construction would stop.
Obama was angry that Biden's visit was derailed over the incident. Instead of working with the Israel officials and going the diplomatic route, Obama ratcheted it up to international crisis status. This is the Chicago machine at work, folks. This is what they do.
Netanyahu apologized. Apparently, that was not enough for our president - the one who is notably traveling the globe apologizing for our country. In order to extract his pound of flesh from the visiting Netanyahu, a visit that was not to have happened due to the travel schedule of Obama, who was supposed to be in Indonesia but stayed home to ram through health care legislation. Obama decided to show utter disregard of any pretense of good manners to his visitor. Though he didn't have Netanyahu go through a side door, landscaped with bags of garbage as he did to the Dalai Lama, he wasn't exactly met with open arms.
Obama didn't accept Netanyahu's explanation of the previous incident, complete with Netanyahu pulling out a flow chart of how Jerusalem planning permission works and proof that he didn't know in advance of the announcement. Obama was set on public humiliation at his own hands to a visiting foreign leader. Obama refused to pose for photos, as is customary, and he ditched Netanyahu for dinner with Michelle and the girls.
Netanyahu refused to promise in writing any concession on settlements. The atmosphere was so poisoned that he and party left the White House as they were convinced that they would be listened to if any phone calls were made. Ehud Barak, the Defense Minister, used the Israeli Embassy for placing telephone calls.
Netanyahu came to Washington, D.C. to make a speech to AIPAC.
Jerusalem is not a settlement. This is Netanyahu's speech to AIPAC:
Hillary Clinton also spoke to AIPAC. As Secretary of State she mislead either, intentionally or unintentionally, that Hamas had re-named a town square in Palestine controlled area after a terrorist. The town square re-named after a terrorist who killed innocent Israelis was done so by Fatah officials, the party to which the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, belongs. Clinton talked up Fatah as the instrument to peace.
You may remember during the Clinton years, Hillary was captured on tape kissing the check of Sula Arafat after an Israeli attack. There is a history of Clintonian suspension of disbelief in the region. Netanyahu spoke after Clinton.
American Jews voted for Obama to the tune of 80% in 2008. This international blip has provoked Palestinian violence. For the administration to be blind to the consequences of this temper tantrum is questionable. The administration has watered down the demands placed to Iran on the nuclear weapon topic. They are determined to get a U.N. security council resolution and that is impossible without China and Russia - both of whom do business with Iran and do not support harsher sanctions. So Obama and his team appease.
For Obama to continue to demand that Israel keep capitulating to the Palestinian Authority is remarkable. And, tragic. The relationship between the U.S. and Israel is at an all time low. This, after Obama implied that the previous administration dropped the ball in the region. It was a lie told to prop himself up, as all the 'inherited' rhetoric of this president is, of course, and this does not move us in a productive direction. The previous administration worked diligently with both sides of the peace talks and there was much shuttle diplomacy with Israel and the PA. This president is short sighted and solely out for his own legacy. We are left to hope he will become experienced enough in office to change path while he can.