Speaking today in his weekly address to the cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily declared that the Palestinians were to blame for blocking the US-brokered peace talks. It was not exactly a novel speech, but the timing will certainly leave many wonder if anyone is taking the claims seriously anymore.
After all, the Palestinian Authority had agreed to the US-brokered indirect talks just two weeks ago, and even had the Arab League’s backing for doing so. Those plans went up in smoke as the Israeli government chose the eve of those talks to announce several new settlement expansions, sparking tensions with the US and ending the talks, at least for now.
The death of the peace process may have come at a major price for the Israeli government, in that it may have lost its de facto veto power in the UN Security Council. With the Obama Administration exasperated at the Netanyahu government’s behavior, officials say the US is seriously considering abstaining from a resolution that would condemn Israel for its settlement activity in occupied East Jerusalem. The US normally vetoes any measure critical of Israel as a matter of course.
Even beyond that Israeli officials reportedly are expressing concern that the Obama Administration may try to impose a peace settlement on them. Such a move would come with serious political costs for Obama, as much of the Congress stands unquestioningly on Netanyahu’s side, but that such things are even being discussed shows just how much damage the settlement moves have done to the Israel-US relationship.