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Yesterday, was a big day for news in the Middle East particularly concerning the American role in the process between Israel and the Palestinians. The news that Israel was attempting to add some 1,600 NEW houses through the government run ILA in disputed East Jerusalem, came out that right after the announcement of indirect peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians mediated by the Americans and a visit from our Vice President Joe Biden.

These talks were backed by the Arab League and the PLO...

However, the Israelis decided in a couple of ways to take a slap at their best friend in the world - the United States and then after V.P. Biden criticized them decided to double down in what is becoming Olympics for TEH SToOPid (done on purpose for the snark impaired).

Vice President Biden was rightly peeved and even though the plan for 1,600 houses in Ramat Shlomo has not had final approval it is still a diplomatic nightmare and a direct slap in the face to American / Israeli friendship.

Settlement Watch in conjunction with Shalom Achshav reports and editorializes the following:

This is not the final approval of the plan, and it still needs to be deposited for public objections, and then after hearings and modifications to be approved and validated. Only after a long process, which should take at least 2 years, could the bulldozers start the construction.

Prime Minister Netanyahu should be held responsible to the diplomatic crisis that might torpedo the talks. Even if it was true that the approval of the plan accidentally coincided with Vice President Biden’s visit, still, Netanyahu did not take the required actions in order to make sure that the plan is not promoted, especially when it is a plan which is initiated by a governmental organ, the ILA, and not by private initiators. Had Netanyahu truly wanted to promote the talks, he would have prevented any provocation in Jerusalem.

http://settlementwatcheastjerusalem....

SO why was this announced now.... pretty obviously despite Interior Minister's Eli Yishai's claim that this was a "mistake" in my opinion it was meant to once and for all lay down what the Right Wing is "gunning" for with regards to Israel. Unfortunately it as Settlement Watch says is pretty obvious that the Netanyahu government is in lockstep with this decision.

On a brighter note however, it is clear from the below statement that the U.S. realizes that Israel cannot remain a Jewish State and a Democratic state as long as it continues it's colonization of the occupied territories. The demographics simply don't add up for this to occur.

"The demographic realities make it difficult for Israel to be a Jewish homeland and a democratic country," said Biden in his speech to foreign dignitaries, Israeli officials and students at Tel Aviv University. "The status quo is not sustainable."

"To end this historic conflict, both sides must be historically bold," he said.

http://www.haaretz.com/...

However not to be outdone for a trip down "Teh StOoPid" Lane the Foreign Ministers office says "Israel won't make any more concessions" and then is allowing Extreme Rightists Baruch Mazel and Itmar Ben-Gvir and others to march in East Jerusalem and protest what they call "illegal Palestinian construction". (My computer won't hold Ha'aretz for some reason but this story is also there). Ha'aretz was reporting that talks are off for now - if anyone can check on this I would appreciate that.

Now during this time a leadership delegation from Americans for Peace Now met with Danny Ayalon to register their disatisfaction with this and then will be meetings with Salaam Fayyad, and Tzipi Livni...

But even more so there is this very disturbing piece of news reported by Lara Freidman at Americans for Peace Now:

Attention today is riveted on headlines in the Israeli press reporting Israeli plans for 50,000 residential units in East Jerusalem.  Coming on the heels of the Biden visit debacle, the interest in this report is unsurprising.  Here we offer some information and analysis about the facts behind the headlines and what they mean for the prospects of peace and the two-state solution.

........

Looking Ahead:  As we have already seen, the announcement of any East Jerusalem settlement construction today is enormously detrimental to the political process.  

Moreover, certain of the schemes in the pipeline represent a direct threat to the viability of the two-state solution.  These are those that:

•seek to change the borders of Jerusalem
•seek to implant additional settlers in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods, or

•seek to "weld" together existing settlement with adjacent Palestinian neighborhoods, making it impossible in the future to draw a political border between Israeli Yerushalayim and Palestinian Al Quds.

Given these very real threats, the focus today should not be on numbers-generated hysteria about Israel's "no-holds-barred" aspirations in East Jerusalem, but on identifying which East Jerusalem settlement schemes are real, imminent, and dangerous.  Once identified, the goal should be to target them and look at the mechanics of how they can be stopped, either through private or public intervention.  Bad things are indeed happening in Jerusalem; what is required today is sober, pragmatic resolve to put an end to them.  

http://peacenow.org/...

As Americans I feel we need to call, email or write to our congresspeople and let them know that this process needs to end. What can they do about it... well America is Israel's no.1 supporter in the world. Immediately I think we need to cut off funding on a dollar for dollar basis with what Israel spends on Settlements. My feeling is that if they can spend it on Settlements - which lessen their security - we should not be bankrolling that. Simply put - we made an effort to broker peace - the Israelis are slapping at us for doing this.

IMPORTANT NOTE: One note about this diary - I am not interested in One State solutions nor those who hate Israel. If you are one of those people please don't rec. this diary or support it. I did not put this diary up to gain your support. I strongly support a Two-State solution and a Jewish Homeland in Israel - I criticize the country because I support it's existence and I support a strong American/Israeli alliance. Sometimes I believe a friend has to be honest to help save a friend from a terrible mistake.

Originally posted to volleyboy1 on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 12:26 PM PST.

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