Huffington Post/AP First Posted: 03- 9-10 08:37 AM | Updated: 03-10-10 02:10 PM
JERUSALEM — Israel approved the construction of 1,600 new homes for Jews in disputed east Jerusalem on Tuesday – a move that immediately clouded a visit by Vice President Joe Biden aimed at repairing strained ties and kickstarting Mideast peace talks.
The Interior Ministry announced the construction plans just as Biden was wrapping up a series of warm meetings with Israeli leaders.
Biden issued the following statement Tuesday afternoon in response:
I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem. The substance and timing of the announcement, particularly with the launching of proximity talks, is precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now and runs counter to the constructive discussions that I’ve had here in Israel. We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them. This announcement underscores the need to get negotiations under way that can resolve all the outstanding issues of the conflict. The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians and for Jews, Muslims and Christians. We believe that through good faith negotiations, the parties can mutually agree on an outcome that realizes the aspirations of both parties for Jerusalem and safeguards its status for people around the world. Unilateral action taken by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations on permanent status issues. As George Mitchell said in announcing the proximity talks, “we encourage the parties and all concerned to refrain from any statements or actions which may inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of these talks.
Relations between Israel and the Obama administration have been chilly precisely because of the settlement issue.
The U.S., like the Palestinians and the rest of the international community, believes that Israeli settlements built on lands claimed by the Palestinians, including east Jerusalem, undermine peace prospects. President Obama has been more outspoken on the issue than his predecessors.
Fire Dog Lake- By: Spencer Ackerman Friday March 12, 2010 5:37 pm
After being humiliated in Jerusalem over the settlement construction in Ramat Shlomo, Joe Biden tells a closed-door group that Israeli intransigence in the peace process “is starting to get dangerous for us… What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.” Much more from Laura Rozen, who’s really owned this and should be proud of her work this week. Today Secretary Clinton got in the act. Netanyahu is an obstructionist and it’s good to see the Obama administration remind Israelis that its interests are not abstract things. The truth is it’s not “starting” to get dangerous for us.
My friend Daniel Levy has forgotten more about Israeli politics than I’ll know and he writes that Netanyahu may be the last best hope for the two-state solution. For the life of me I just don’t understand the logic. As best as I can understand, Daniel believes Netanyahu’s obstructionism, combined with statebuilding efforts from Salam Fayyad in the West bank, will strengthen international support for… what? Imposing a solution on Israel?
It’s so easy to be cynical and downtrodden about the prospects for peace and to say that Obama isn’t strong enough and Biden will be content to be bitchslapped in Israel and on and on and on. Maybe Clinton can speak half as bluntly to AIPAC later this month, but I won’t despair if she doesn’t. Because when it comes to Israel/Palestine, it’s tiresome to even talk in terms of hope and other emotional outbursts. There is a cause and a vision and a destination and fuck how hard it is, we have to keep going. Two states, two peoples, no alternatives, no obstructions, no choices, no divergences, nothing else matters. We must run a marathon.
Update: Also, one more fucking thing and then good Shabbos to you. If and when the two-state solution dies and the horrific choice really is the end of a Jewish state or the end of a democratic state, so many writers who wrung their hands over every difficult choice Israel had to make and found it easier to condemn those who urged those difficult choices to be made will suddenly find themselves denouncing the inaction of the past that their irresponsible intellectual choices encouraged.
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