Vice President Joe Biden's "reassurance mission
" to Israel spiraled into disaster
when Israel announced it would allow the growth of settlements
in East Jerusalem against U.S. wishes. Some high-profile American pundits had previously urged President Obama to disengage from the Israel-Palestine conflict
or even to distance himself from Israel
. Now relations are as strained as they've been "in two decades
." President Obama is
" and has put sharp demands on Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. CENTCOM chief General David Petraeus has expressed concern
that America's ties to Israel are undermining its broader Middle East
missions. Is the U.S.-Israel relationship, one of the world's strongest East-West
partnerships, falling apart? What can be done to salvage it?
- 'Watershed' For U.S.-Israel The New York Times' Roger Cohen calls this a
"watershed moment" because it has made the settlements not just an
Israel-Palestine issue but an Israel-U.S. issue. Continuing settlements
is "an affront" to America and Israel must cease settlement growth if
it wants to maintain the favor of its most important partner and
patron. (Cohen points out the U.S. has been "pouring $28.9 billion into
Israel" this past decade.)
- U.S. Must Call for Israeli Official Replacements Foreign Policy's David Makovsky says
the alliance is far too important to both sides to let fray. But by
shifting the blame to a single official, Israeli Interior Minister Eli
Yishai (who does bear significant responsibility), both save face while
making real progress on the settlements. "Replacing Yishai would send a
message in the Israeli political world that U.S.-Israel relations are
more important than domestic politics." It would also improve Israeli
policy on the settlements.
- Don't Blow Up Alliance Over This RealClearWorld's Robert Satloff urges
Obama to look at the big pictures and not make demands that Israel
can't meet. "The key for a great power is to know the difference
between thinking big and thinking small. The vice president's mission
to Israel was an expression of the former. Even accounting for the
Israelis' grievous blunder that marred Biden's visit, it is important
for the administration not to let itself be diverted from this path."
- MidEast Concerns Trump Settlements National Review's Joel Rosenberg downplays
the incident, insisting Israel has every right to grow settlements and that Obama is "dramatically overreacting" and "making an enormous and
dangerous mistake" that "will lead to another major war, not to peace."
The mutual reliance between the U.S. and Israel over Middle East
security concerns should trump the settlement issue, anyway. "This is
not how a superpower should treat its most faithful ally in a dangerous
- Actually, Settlements Are MidEast Problem Spencer Ackerman argues
that Israel's settlements actually undermine the U.S. in the Middle
East because we are blamed for not standing up to Israel. He cites
General Petraeus' request to put Israel under CENTCOM (instead of
EUCOM) authority as evidence that Petraeus sees Israel's settlements as
part of the broader Middle East picture.
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