Yesterday President Obama delivered his historic speech to the Muslim world, calling for an independent Palestinian state and calling on Israel once again to halt the growth of its West Bank settlements. Today, Israeli officials say they will ignore the appeals, and continue on with the policy of settlement growth.
Since taking office two months ago after a tightly-contested election, Israel’s right-wing coalition government has abandoned the previous government’s peace talks and repeatedly rejected the “two-state solution” which President Obama has been advocating.
More recently the administration has been pressing Israel to halt the growth of settlements, as agreed to in the previous roadmap. The Israelis have rejected that call as well, claiming to have had a secret deal with former President Bush that allowed them to continue to expand the settlements. The agreement was never written down, and Bush-era officials insist it was never made at all.
All this has added up to a very tense US-Israeli relationship, and despite US pledges not to seek punitive measures against Israel for its continued defiance, Obama has faced mounting domestic criticism as well as anti-US protests in Israel, where Obama has been condemned as “the most anti-Semitic American president.”