The Administration's Manufactured, Trumped Up Fight With Israel
The Council on Foreign Relations asked Elliott Abrams and several other Fellows here to discuss "Why are the United States and Israel divided over the settlements issue" and his answer reveals the utterly fraudulent nature of the Administration's fight with Israel:
Why are the United States and Israel divided over the settlements issue?Elliott Abrams, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies, Council on Foreign RelationsThe United States and Israel have long had different views of the settlements, but the issue has been managed without a crisis for decades. In the Bush administration, a deal was struck whereby the United States would not protest construction inside existing settlements so long as they did not expand outward. The current crisis, ostensibly about construction in Jerusalem, was manufactured by the Obama administration--and as it is about Jerusalem, isn't even about activity in the settlements.Every Israeli government since 1967, of left or right, has asserted that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and has allowed Israeli Jews to build there. The current crisis stems from the announcement of plans--not actual construction--in a part of the city five blocks from the 1967 lines and in a neighborhood that very clearly will remain part of Israel after any negotiated settlement. To escalate that announcement into a crisis in bilateral relations and "condemn" it--using a verb we apply to acts of murder and terror, not acts of housing construction--was a decision by the U.S. government, not a natural or inevitable occurrence.Among the errors by the administration is the assertion that unless all construction freezes, there can be no negotiations. There were face-to-face peace negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians year after year while construction took place in settlements and in Jerusalem, so this is a new demand and a new obstacle to peace. Negotiations are not a favor the Palestinians bestow on us or on Israel; they are the path to the statehood the Palestinian Authority claims is its right and its goal. It appears the United States and Israel are divided over all this now because the Obama administration is imposing new demands on Israel, and building tensions in the bilateral relationship, in an effort to destabilize the governing coalition in Israel. It is a shameful way to treat an ally.