The Israeli decision to build Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory of East Jerusalem referred to as E1, according to Atlantic columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, prompted Obama to sharply criticize Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in private.
According to the New York Times, the bulk of the new housing units Israel has plans for are set to be built “in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
The settlement would connect Jerusalem and the illegal Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, and “therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem.”
“When informed about the Israeli decision, Obama, who has a famously contentious relationship with the prime minister, didn’t even bother getting angry,” Goldberg writes. “He told several people that this sort of behavior on Netanyahu’s part is what he has come to expect, and he suggested that he has become inured to what he sees as self-defeating policies of his Israeli counterpart.”
According to Goldberg, in the weeks after the UN vote on Palestine’s status, Obama said “privately and repeatedly” that, “Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.”
“With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation,” Goldberg adds.
It may be true that Israel’s hardline policies towards the Palestinians are not in its own best interests, but the so-called “path toward near-total isolation” will always be “near” and not “total” so long as Washington continues to blindly back every Israeli action, no matter how illegal or egregious.
Even if Goldberg’s account of Obama’s reaction is true, the administration has done nothing to actually pressure Israel in a better direction. Much the opposite: by publicly stating the US doesn’t support the new Israeli settlement, but continuing to send aid, weapons and diplomatic support for everything Israel does, the US ensures the continuation of such policies.
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