Last March Vice President Joe Biden visited Israel to work on getting indirect peace talks underway.
While he was there, a Jerusalem planning committee announced the approval of an additional 1600 housing units in an existing Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem. The neighborhood, Ramat Shlomo, would never be handed over to the Palestinian Arab state in any conceivable peace plan, and the Jerusalem municipality approves or rejects housing plans all the time. Beyond that, the PA had already admitted that Ramat Shlomo would remain part of Israel.
Still, there was a firestorm of protest over this coincidental timing, as if the Knesset and Israel’s Prime Minister personally approve every housing project in Jerusalem. Secretary of State Clinton called the move “insulting” and Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu had to express regrets over the incident.
The supposed “insult” was nothing of the sort, but the US publicly dressed down its closest ally in the Middle East because of the actions of a low-level city clerk.
Now let’s fast forward.
On Friday, the US vetoed a UN resolution calling Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria “illegal.” This occurred after a long phone call from President Obama to PA president Mahmoud Abbas begging him to drop the resolution. Abbas ignored the President’s pleas.
After the vote and the veto, UN representative Susan Rice gave an unprecedented speech clarifying the US position, and groveling towards the Arab world by insisting how distasteful the Obama administration considers Jews living in their historic heartland.
The response from the Palestinian leadership was published, in Arabic, on the Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs website. It says, in part:
U.S. veto: an obstacle to peace
The United States of America’s use of the veto to prevent the passage of a UN resolution condemning Israel’s settlement policy confirms that it is not an honest broker, and it is no longer able to carry out its responsibilities as a sponsor of any future Palestinian – Israeli negotiations.
This first veto of the administration of President Barack Obama puts the credibility of the sponsor of the peace process in jeopardy…
We see the U.S. veto as encouraging Israel to move forward in the processes of settlement and Judaizing Jerusalem, and the construction of a wall of annexation and expansion. [We] hold the U.S. administration to be fully responsibile for the consequences and repercussions.
This, ladies and gentlemen, is what an an insult looks like.
The PA is officially calling the United States an “obstacle to peace.” It is saying that the US – a nation that has worked harder than any other to bring about peace, a nation that brokered Camp David – cannot be an honest broker in negotiations. Whether you agree or disagree with the present administration, this press release is an unacceptable slap in the face of the world’s superpower by an entity that cannot conceive of the idea of compromise for peace.
This hateful screed has, so far, been ignored both by the media and by the current administration. There have been no public calls for apologies, no calling out of president Mahmoud Abbas who is responsible for this statement.
Not only did Susan Rice’s little speech meant to blunt the veto not placate the Palestinian Authority – it is entirely possible that it emboldened them to slam the United States.
In fact, it might be even more than an insult – it is practically a public statement that the Palestinian Arabs no longer subscribe to the peace process.
Yet there are no angry recriminations, no evidence of displeasure, no outrage. It is almost as if the Obama administration is afraid of upsetting the Palestinian Arabs while they do not hesitate to find ways to be “insulted” by its friends.
There is something deeply and profoundly wrong with this picture.