10 March 2010

Israel "apologizes" to Biden

Just a couple of days ago, Vice President Biden vowed undying devotion to Israel. He stated unequivocally that the U.S. will stand by its friend and ally on matters of Israeli security. Shortly after, while Biden was meeting with Palestinian officials regarding the stalled peace talks, Israel chose to unveil their plan to build 1600 more homes in East Jerusalem.
While Israel is apologizing for embarrassing VP Biden they are explaining that in their point of view, they recognize that the error was merely one of timing.

Israel apologized Wednesday for disrupting the visit of Vice President Joe Biden with its announcement of 1,600 new homes in disputed east Jerusalem, but made clear it had no intention of reversing the order that has cast a shadow over the latest U.S. push for Mideast peace.

As Biden held talks with top Palestinian leaders in the West Bank, Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, whose office announced the new construction on lands Palestinians claim for a future state, said the problem was about timing, not substance.

"We had no intention, no desire, to offend or taunt an important man like the vice president during his visit," Yishai told Israel Radio. "I am very sorry for the embarrassment. We need to remember that approvals are done according to law even if the timing was wrong. ... Next time we need to take timing into account."

The problem here is that while they are apologizing, they are skirting over the point entirely. They are saying that the devil be damned, we are going to do what we want to do (claiming that the homes are lawful if I read that correctly), but that they will watch when they say things. Problem solved!

Biden is said to have made unusually harsh condemnations over the announcement but the fact of the matter is, the Palestinian side made the more truthful and the most harsh statement, one that should come from the U.S and the international community. One that is obvious and long overdue.

Biden's talks with the Palestinians on Wednesday were aimed in part to ease their doubts about the latest U.S. peace efforts. Israel's planned construction in east Jerusalem was an embarrassing setback for Biden after a day of warm meetings with senior Israeli officials — and drew an unusually harsh condemnation from the vice president.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the Israeli announcement was "damaging" and posed a "great challenge" to restarting peace talks. Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the new construction would be the main item on the Abbas-Biden agenda.

"I think the Israeli government is making it almost impossible for us, the Americans and the international community, to take a one centimeter step in the direction of reviving the peace process," Erekat said.

Absolutely true, without a doubt.
Egypt didn't hold back either.

The new construction plan also drew a sharp rebuke from Egypt, Israel's closest ally in the Arab world, and from U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

"This is absurd. It is disdainful of the Arab and the Palestinian positions and the American mediation," said Hossam Zaki, a spokesman for the Egyptian Foreign Ministry. (more at the source)

Disdain indeed. I have yet to read anything on more serious attempts at damage control but it seems to me that this, along with the Dubai murder, the continued expansion into Occupied Territory and the fact that Gaza remains under tight strangulation ( I might add, etc. etc.) are all adding up to the fact that Israel, as it stands today, is not a friend or ally to anybody, least of all, to itself.