In How Obama created the Biden incident, Charles Krauthammer puts the gaffe--surrounding the announcement by Israel's Interior Ministry about housing expansion in a Jewish neighborhood in north Jerusalem--in perspective:
But it was no more than a gaffe. It was certainly not a policy change, let alone a betrayal. The neighborhood is in Jerusalem, and the 2009 Netanyahu-Obama agreement was for a 10-month freeze on West Bank settlements excluding Jerusalem.Israeli ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor notes that those making demands on Israel do not even know where Ramat Shlomo, the center of the controversy, is located:
Nor was the offense intentional. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did not know about this move -- step four in a seven-step approval process for construction that, at best, will not even start for two to three years. [Hat tip: Soccer Dad]
Let's get the facts straight. Ramat Shlomo is not in "east" Jerusalem as often reported, but in the north of Jerusalem. It is not a new settlement, but an existing, established neighbourhood. The planning application has already taken years and will take at least another three for the first brick to be laid.Think about that for a second: not only was the announcement about something that would not even take place for the foreseeable future, and that the announcement itself does not contradict the 10-month freeze that Netanyahu had agreed to--the yelling by critics about Israel building in East Jerusalem is not even in East Jerusalem, and is in an area that many agree will belong to Israel anyway in any peace agreement.
Most cool-headed analysts agree that Jerusalem suburbs such as Ramat Shlomo will be considered part of Israel under any negotiated two-state solution.
Obama is not alone in pouncing upon this as an opportunity to make unilateral demands on Israel, now the Quartet as a whole is jumping in:
The so-called Quartet of Middle East mediators called on Israel to freeze all settlement activities and denounced Israel's aim to build new housing in East Jerusalem Friday.But yet again, there is no sense of proportion--let alone history--to be found in the response of either the Obama administration nor the Quartet. Again, Krauthammer:
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon read a joint statement by the members — Russia, the United States, the U.N. and the European Union — following a meeting of the group in Moscow, which welcomed the prospect of "proximity talks" between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The Quartet believes these negotiations should lead to a settlement, negotiated between the parties within 24 months, that ends the occupation which began in 1967 and results in the emergence of an independent, democratic and viable Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with Israel and its other neighbors," the statement said.
In these long and bloody 63 years, the Palestinians have not once accepted an Israeli offer of permanent peace, or ever countered with anything short of terms that would destroy Israel. They insist instead on a "peace process" -- now in its 17th post-Oslo year and still offering no credible Palestinian pledge of ultimate coexistence with a Jewish state -- the point of which is to extract preemptive Israeli concessions, such as a ban on Jewish construction in parts of Jerusalem conquered by Jordan in 1948, before negotiations for a real peace have even begun.But these are details that will only slow down, not expedite any peace process. The fastest route to an 'agreement' is to put pressure on Israel, since of the two sides they are the only ones with competence to follow through on any agreement.
But Krauthammer digs deeper into Obama's own motivation for creating the current situation:
So why this astonishing one-sidedness? Because Obama likes appeasing enemies while beating up on allies -- therefore Israel shouldn't take it personally (according to Robert Kagan)? Because Obama wants to bring down the current Israeli coalition government (according to Jeffrey Goldberg)?
Or is it because Obama fancies himself the historic redeemer whose irresistible charisma will heal the breach between Christianity and Islam or, if you will, between the post-imperial West and the Muslim world -- and has little patience for this pesky Jewish state that brazenly insists on its right to exist, and even more brazenly on permitting Jews to live in its ancient, historical and now present capital?Obama is intent on forcing through a peace "agreement" which, like Obamacare in the US, will have far-reaching and dangerous consequences upon those it is forced upon.
As for the Quartet as a whole, appeasement is not beneath them either.
Technorati Tag: Israel and Obama and The Quartet.