Sunday, March 14, 2010

How Quick They Forget: A Short History of U.S. Policy and Israeli Construction in East Jerusalem

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By Barry Rubin

For more than four months the U.S. government has been celebrating Israel agreeing to stop construction on settlements in the West Bank while continuing building in east Jerusalem as a great step forward and Israeli concession deserving a reward. Suddenly, all of this is forgotten to say that Israel building in east Jerusalem is some kind of terrible deed which deserves punishment.

Israelis are used to this pattern: give a big concession and a few months later that step is forgotten as Israel is portrayed as intransigent and more concessions are demanded with nothing in return. Here is a short history of this round:

October 31, 2009: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lavishly praises Israel as making "unprecedented" concessions in stopping construction on West Bank settlements while it is still going to build in east Jerusalem.

November 1, 2009: The U.S. State Department cheers Israel’s announcement that it will stop construction on West Bank settlements but not in east Jerusalem: "Today's announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

March 12, 2010: Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says that Israel building in east Jerusalem is an “insult” to the United States, jeopardizes the bilateral relationship, and damages the cause of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Meanwhile, even though the Palestinian Authority has refused to negotiate for 14 months; made President Brack Obama look very foolish after destroying his publicly announced September plan to have negotiations in two months; broke its promise not to sponsor the Goldstone report in the UN; and rejected direct negotiations after months of pleading by the Obama White House, not a single word of criticism has ever been offered by any administration official regarding the PA's continuous and very public sabotage of peace process efforts.

Can people please point out that there's a bit of a contradiction here?

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). His new edited books include Lebanon: Liberation, Conflict and Crisis; Guide to Islamist Movements; Conflict and Insurgency in the Middle East; and The Muslim Brotherhood. To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books. To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports.

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