Vice President Joe Biden is begining a five day Middle East tour to discuss the current status of peace negotiations. On the same day that the Vice President met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Haaretz reported that Israel’s Interior Ministry has approved the construction 1,600 new homes inside East Jerusalem.
A few hours after emphasizing the ‘unshakeable’ ties between the U.S. and Israel, the Vice President issued an unusual public rebuke to the Israeli Government on the issue of the illegal settlements. Biden is planning to meet with the Palestinian leadership in the West Bank who had agreed last week to indirect talks with the Israelis prior to this latest announcement.
This expansion into Palestinian territory continues a repeated diplomatic pattern by the Netanyahu Government of publicly declaring the desire to renew peace talks while systematically undermining the talks through official state policy. The lack of good faith gestures on the part of the Israelis has suceeded in its aim to stalemate the latest round of talks, while simultaneously embarrassing the Vice President ahead of his visit with Arab leaders.