Tension between Israel and the Obama Administration has been a matter of considerable speculation in the past week, but President Obama doesn’t see the reason for it.
Speaking today Obama declared Israel “sacrosanct” and said that the “special relationship” between Israel and the United States was not going away. Speaking of the peace process he added “the actions that were taken by the interior minister in Israel weren’t helpful to that process. Prime Minister Netanyahu acknowledged as much and apologized for it.”
Other members of the Obama Administration were less forgiving, saying that the move was “insulting” and deliberately designed to ruin the indirect peace talks. The Palestinian Authority has said they will continue on with the peace talks only once Israel backs off the settlement expansion, something Israel has absolutely ruled out doing. The State Department says they have yet to hear back “formally” from Israel about the demand.
Though President Obama seems to be as conciliatory with Israel as ever, willing to accept the “apology” without the actual policy shift, he is taken growing criticism at home and abroad over the row. Congressmen are accusing him of “aiding the enemy,” while right wing Israeli protesters condemn him as an “agent of the PLO.” Prime Minister Netanyahu’s hawkish brother in law angrily condemned Obama as an “anti-Semite” today in a radio interview.
At the end of the day though, it seems that the tension is dying down, with or without any return to the peace process. Israel’s far right coalition government seems politically unable (not to mention unwilling) to back off the settlement expansion, and the Obama Administration likewise seems to have little to gain from continuing to criticize them.
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