Israel made a mistake in announcing an East Jerusalem building permit at the same time Joe Biden was visiting.
The building permit really is a non-issue since everyone knows the Ramat Shlomo section of Jerusalem never is going to be given to the Palestinians, but the optics looked bad, and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has apologized.
That should and could have been the end of it. But consistent with Obama’s policy of beating up close allies, Obama is not letting the issue rest.
Obama has found his excuse to bring Israel to its knees, both on the peace process and the coming Iranian crisis.
Obama loaded up his foreign policy establishment with people who view Israel as the problem, and who look to taking Israel down a few notches as the key to our foreign policy. The foreign policy establishment has many sympathizers among the anti-“Israel lobby” crowd.
I agree with this HuffPo blogger to the extent that this Israeli diplomatic error is the excuse Obama has been waiting for:
Like a chess player patiently waiting for his opponent to make the first mistake, the U.S. administration has pounced on the opportunity to vent its anger with Israel. The public humiliation of Vice President Joe Biden during his visit in Israel was, apparently, the last straw.
But Obama is playing with regional fire by demanding as reparations for the diplomatic mistake that Israel, among other things, release hundreds of Palestinians arrested on securities charges, give territorial concessions which affect security, and ease the Gaza blockade which would allow Iran easier access to arms shipments.
Here is what the U.S. reportedly is demanding the Israelis do to end the diplomatic crisis with the U.S.:
Make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians enabling the renewal of peace talks. The Americans suggested that hundreds of Palestinian prisoners be released, that the Israel Defense Forces withdraw from additional areas of the West Bank and transfer them to Palestinian control, that the siege of the Gaza Strip be eased and further roadblocks in the West Bank be removed.
Obama’s desire to bring Israel down may spark another intifada, as Palestinians (both Hamas and the PA) are emboldened to consummate their plans to spark a crisis over false allegations that Israel plans to destoy the Al-Aqsa mosque:
Even though it was Israel who sparked the most recent crisis over Jerusalem, it is not the only player adding fuel to the fire. The behavior of the Obama administration – with senior officials trying to outdo each other in public reprimands of Israel – is reminiscent of the intentionally tough stance taken on the Netanyahu government a year ago. Nor are the Palestinians missing the opportunity to fan the flames.
True, the prime minister played into their hands on the matter of proposed construction in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, and Jerusalem’s mayor is still at it, but the Palestinian Authority is playing a very dangerous game – perhaps the most dangerous of it all – over Jerusalem and specifically the Temple Mount.
Mohammed Dahlan, who is not known for his religious fervor, Khatem Abdel Kader, who holds the Jerusalem portfolio in Fatah, and others called Sunday on Israeli Arabs and residents of East Jerusalem to go to the Temple Mount today to “protect it from the Jews.” A pamphlet Sunday issued a similar call; it was signed by the National and Islamic Forces, an organization that coordinated activities during the second intifada and in practice does not exist today
Obama and the bring-Israel-to-its-knees crowd risk taking a dangerous situation, and putting a spark to the powder keg.