US-Israel Split Widens After Settlement ‘Blindside’

Unusually Harsh US Rebuke of Settlement Announcement

Every time Israel makes some announcement putting peace talks in jeopardy, usually by way of a settlement expansion or the destruction of another Palestinian neighborhood, the response from the US has been muted, giving lip-service to the idea that they’re opposed to it, but warning against letting it have any impact. Today was different.

When Israel announced plans earlier today for 24,000 new settlement units, the biggest single announcement in a decade, the US quickly responded with a condemnation, and a demand for an explanation.

It wasn’t just the size of the plan, but reportedly the US was totally blindsided by it, with past announcements a lot easier managed and telegraphed at least a bit by the Netanyahu government.

The Obama Administration is also apparently seeing the timing of the announcement as a slap in the face, coming just days after Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Israel, during which he explicitly warned the Israelis about settlements increasing their international isolation and risking a third intifada.

The Obama Administration and the Netanyahu government have been at odds on a lot of issues for years, but in the midst of an open battle for influence in the US Congress, there seems a lot less patience and goodwill remaining, and the settlement announcement, even after it was retracted, suggests the split is widening and taking on a more public tenor.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.