Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

December 28, 2009

Netanyahu recklessly escalates construction in Jerusalem

Filed under: Israeli settlements,Jerusalem,Washington's diplomacy — Helena Cobban @ 9:35 pm

Just when U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell is reportedly hoping– nearly one year after his appointment– to finally get some peace negotiations going, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu today rubbed his and Pres. Obama’s noses in the dirt by blithely announcing the construction of 690 new housing units in the illegal, Jews-only settlements in Greater East Jerusalem.

But wait! The Obama administration has hit back! They’ve–

… Um, well, they’ve issued a nannyish little statement saying that,

Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. Rather, both parties should return to negotiations without preconditions as soon as possible…

That was from White House press secretary Robert Gibbs earlier today.  (Very similar to what he’s said on the subject previously. You can see how effective that mid-November statement was, obviously.)

But where is the statement from the White House saying that Israel’s commission of this grossly illegal act matters enough to the Obama administration that it will be taking firm action to stop Netanyahu from proceeding with his plan?

Um, nowhere.

But of course Israel’s wilful pursuit of its ethnic transformation plan in Greater East Jerusalem matters to Americans. Especially at a time when we have around 200,000 US service-members serving in very tense situations in majority-Muslim countries. (As I recently noted here.)

In today’s statement, Gibbs did try to make some, presumably helpful reference to the sensibilities that Muslims around the world have regarding Jerusalem.  To be precise, he said,

The United States recognizes that Jerusalem is a deeply important issue for Israelis and Palestinians, and for Jews, Muslims, and Christians…

But why put “Jews” first in the list of those faith communities?  There are, after all, only around 14 million Jewish people in the whole world, compared with more than a billion each of Muslims and Christians?

I would hate to think that when they looks at international issues like this one, Obama and his press secretary think that some of the world’s people count for a lot more (to be precise, more than 7,000 percent as much) to him than others, based solely on their religion…


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