Friday, March 26, 2010

Bebe's Blundering

When VP Joe Biden visited Israel earlier this month, the Israelis chose that time to make the announcement that they were building 1600 new housing units in East Jerusalem. It was a clear statement of their continued intransigence and unwillingness to negotiate real peace with the Palestinians as well as a blatant insult to Biden. Though Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared not to have known ahead of the announcement, his Interior Minister did.

The current government is a coalition and the Prime Minister apparently has some difficulty controlling the right wing members of that coalition, one of whom is Eli Yishai, the Interior Minister. Biden was in Israel to bolster the U.S. support for a commitment to the promised peace talks; however, later in the day, after the Israel announcement, Biden issued a statement condemning “the substance and timing of the announcement."

It is said that Netanyahu and President Obama do not have the close personal relationship that other U.S.-Israeli governments have had. There has been tension between them. Even so, the Israelis surely must know that embarrassing the U. S. and not cooperating with their strongest and most influential ally will not help their cause. They are sabotaging their own efforts to garner the world's attention on what they believe is an existential threat from Iran instead of placating the moderate Arab countries around them who are just as threatened by a nuclear Iran as Israel

It appears that Bebe has lost control -- of his own government, his own press, sympathy from the U.S. and generally world opinion. Here is an excerpt of an editorial from one of the Israeli papers after his return to Israel from the U.S. on Thursday:

"A deterioration in relations with the U.S. administration is taking place at the peak of international efforts to block Iran and strengthen the axis of moderate Arab states. In the unnecessary fight with the United States, an essential ally for Israel, the Netanyahu government is showing itself to be the most extremist and dangerous in the country’s history."


"The Prime Minister leaves America disgraced, isolated and altogether weaker than when he came,” the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz said.

The Israeli government needs to get its act together and show the U.S. that it is sincerely interested in moving forward with peace talks. There needs to be some concrete action along with an announcement that there will be no more settlements accompanied by a real attempt to negotiate with the Palestinian Authority. There needs to be commitment rather than this constant deferring of the inevitable.

There must be peace in the Middle East.

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