Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Biden condemns Israel over homes plan.

It's simply impossible to imagine the Bush administration ever saying what Joe Biden said today on his visit to Israel.

In a strongly worded statement, Mr Biden said: "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."

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also issued a statement condemning Israel's settlement plan.

"[Mr Ban] reiterates that settlements are illegal under international law," Reuters news agency quoted the statement as saying.

"Furthermore, he underscores that settlement activity is contrary to Israel's obligations under the roadmap, and undermines any movement towards a viable peace process."

With the Palestinians recently having agreed to proximity talks, Netanyahu could not have thought of a more provocative move to make than the one he has made. It's impossible to look at what Netanyahu has done, and to remember his record as a politician, and pretend to oneself that this is a man seriously engaged in a search for peace.

Both Biden and Obama are about to discover first hand just how destructive Netanyahu is when it comes to peace in the Middle East.

And the Palestinians, who have already been placed in an appalling position due to Obama's decision not to insist on a halt to all illegal Israeli settlement building before talks can begin, now find themselves facing yet another humiliation after finally agreeing to proximity talks.

Palestinian Authority spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP news agency: "This is a dangerous decision and will hinder the negotiations.

"We consider the decision to build in East Jerusalem to be a judgment that the American efforts have failed before the negotiations have even begun."

The Palestinian leadership can only go out on a limb so far, after all, they also have their street to answer to.

Saeb Erekat, the chief Palestinian negotiator, reacted angrily to news of the expansion. "With such an announcement, how can you build trust?" he said. "This is destroying our efforts to work with Mr Mitchell. It's a really disastrous situation. I hope that this will be an eye-opener for all in the international community about the need to have the Israeli government stop such futile exercises."

And one can only suspect that Netanyahu has made this announcement for the very purpose of derailing the proximity talks before they have even begun.

So Biden's tough words are to be welcomed, but without the follow up of some kind of threat should Israel continue with this kind of obstructionism, then they will remain just that; words.

So far it appears that Netanyahu can do whatever he wants, knowing that it is too politically risky for Obama to stop him. As long as Obama allows Netanyahu to treat the process with such contempt, whilst paying no price of any kind for what he is doing, then these entire negotiations will be nothing more than an elaborate photo shoot; which is exactly what Natanyahu wants it to be.

Netanyahu wants to be seen trying to achieve peace, he just doesn't ultimately want it on terms which anyone else would find acceptable. The American president is the only man in the world with the power to force Netanyahu to stop this gamesmanship. But, so far, he has shown no indication that he intends to wield the power at his disposal to bring Netanyahu to the table as a serious player.

That's a failing on Obama's part, and it's painful to watch this play out.

Click here for full article.


Steel Phoenix said...

Very nice, but talk is cheap. What I'd like is a roadmap to sanctions. When we go to Israel all we ever bring is a pocket full of carrots. We come back with carrot stems and bitten fingers.

Kel said...

I agree SP. Talk is cheap. It is time for some kind of action, by which I mean Israel should pay a price for this kind of intransigence.