Status Report March 16 – Israel, US, Palestine and the Middle East Quartet

Posted on March 15, 2010

The surprise announcement by Israel’s Interior Ministry of expanded Israeli settlements occurred on the eve off Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to discuss proximity peace talks between Palestinians and Israel. Since the unfortunate unfolding of events this past week, moves have been made both to clarify, demand and to resolve differences. [For background on Obama’s policy toward Israel and Palestine see his UN speech September, 2009]

  • March 12: In a widely reported phone call, Hillary Clinton warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his government sent a “deeply negative signal” by taking steps that undermined renewed Middle East peace talks. She emphasized that it would not undermine relations between their two countries but she did make specific demands of Israel. [see detailed list of demands at HT to Legalinsurrection]
  • March 12: Prime Minister Netanyahu demanded an investigation into how the information leaked during the visit.  He apologized for the timing of the settlement announcement.

NOTE: Israel was planning to expand an existing settlement in East Jerusalem. Israel  has said it will never cede control over this territory – that is non-negotiable. The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their promised state. Israel invaded the sector in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed it.  It considers the Holy City its eternal and indivisible capital. [AFP]

  • March 12: Planning procedures will be amended in Israel. A representative of the prime minister will be required to be present when development plans are approved.The change has been endorsed by a parliamentary legislation committee. Parliament must approve this measure. [Huffington Post March 12]

The “quartet” of Middle East peace mediators — the United States, the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — issued its own condemnation on Friday of the settlement plan and said it would assess the situation at a previously scheduled meeting in Moscow next week.

“The Quartet has agreed to closely monitor developments in Jerusalem and to keep under consideration additional steps that may be required to address the situation on the ground,” the group said in a statement, without providing further details.[Reuters]

As of 5:00 pm March 15, Reuters was reporting that plans for George Mitchell, US envoy for Middle East Peace, to return to the region were up in the air. [Reuters]

  • March 15: Israel’s ambassador to the US, Michael Oren, admitted that relations between the two countries had reached a historic crisis. “Israel’s ties with the United States are in their worst crisis since 1975 … a crisis of historic proportions.”  [Guardian UK]
  • March 15: Prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, stepped up the row over Jewish settlement plans in East Jerusalem today, saying they would not hurt the city’s Palestinian residents.[Guardian UK]
  • March 15: The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, the powerful lobbying group. AIPAC said “The Obama Administration’s recent statements regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel are a matter of serious concern. AIPAC calls on the Administration to take immediate steps to defuse the tension with the Jewish State.” (Here’s the full statement.) The group added that “The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel.” [CBS News]

March 16: The US primary and most important need for a quick resolution of the crisis:

[P]ressure is being exerted by the US military for early progress in solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as means of reducing Muslim hostility to the US. During the height of the row last week, Mr Biden was reported by Yedhiot Ahronot to have told Mr Netanyahu: “What you’re doing here undermines the security of our troops who are fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. That endangers us and it endangers regional peace.” [Independent.UK]

Obama might also consider that this more public display of displeasure is not only disruptive of a relationship with an ally of long-standing; it leads other allies to assume that they might at any time be treated as Israel is now being treated – pilloried in public. This is not diplomacy. This is fiat.


VotingFemale Speaks! – Massachusetts must be a RAAACIST State; Gov Patrick approval rating? 22%

HotAir – WSJ: What is Obama thinking by attacking Israel?

Frugal Cafe – Irony: Settlement Between Israelis & Palestinians Was Derailed by Settlements, & VP Joe Biden’s “Slap in the Face” (video)