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US media view: The future of US-Israel relations

Clare Spencer | 15:12 UK time, Tuesday, 16 March 2010

US Vice President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Image from 09/03/10)US commentators look at the future of the Israel-US relationship after a row over Israel's announcement during US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit of plans to build 1,600 new Jewish homes in Arab East Jerusalem.

Roger Cohen in the New York Times calls this a watershed moment:

"[I]t's past time that Palestinian failings cease to serve as an excuse for Israel's remorseless, cynical scattering of the Palestinian people into enclaves that make a farce of statehood. That is 'an affront' to America.
In this sense, Biden's foray has been salutary. It brought U.S. 'vital interests' to the surface. It challenged Israel's ostrich-like burrowing into polices that, over time, will make one divided, undemocratic state more likely than 'two states for two peoples.'"

David Makovsky in Foreign Policy argues that although the US is right to be upset over the incident, the US-Israel relationship is "solid to the core":

"There have been almost a dozen separate high-level visits to each country in just the last two months, as the two countries are cooperating extremely closely in their efforts to prevent Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. The United States also stood with Israel in resisting the unbalanced Goldstone report on Gaza. The two countries also engaged in a massive military exercise together recently."

Joel Rosenberg in the National Review argues there may be dangerous consequences to an anti-Israel stance:

"The Obama administration is making an enormous and dangerous mistake. Jerusalem is and should always remain the undivided capital of the Jewish people and the state of Israel. Washington is wrong to use such hysterical and heavy-handed measures to berate Israel and to try to force her to divide her own capital. Doing so will lead to another major war, not to peace."

Robert Satloff in Real Clear World looks at what he thinks shouldn't be done in the coming weeks:

"It would be shortsighted for the administration to use this episode as an opportunity to reward the Palestinians - who, after all, have been unenthusiastic about American requests for negotiations for months -- or to accept Palestinian arguments that 'proximity talks,' rather than direct negotiations, are an appropriate forum for substantive give-and-take. And it would be an analytical blunder for the administration to believe that this incident is an opportunity that could precipitate Netanyahu's political demise: after all, this government - or another with him at the helm - is an accurate reflection of what Israeli politics these days is all about."

Joe Klein in Time's politics blog Swampland says Israel's current government is intent on "thumbing its nose at the American president":

"I'd hope that all American Jews, on both sides of the two-state issue, would agree that an insult directed at the Obama Administration is an insult directed at us all... and that AIPAC members, who I'm sure see themselves as Americans first, will behave accordingly."

Glenn Greenwald in Salon sees this as an important change in relations between the US and Isreal:

"Finally, the reason Israel engages in this intransigent, arrogant conduct is because it believes (with good reason) that U.S. officials will never be willing to (and, in any event, cannot) take any real action against it. At this point, the Obama administration - as reflected by the excellent questions posed yesterday to David Axelrod by ABC News' Jake Tapper - still seems far from ready to do so. Still, there's no denying that the very public condemnation of Israel by the Obama administration is unprecedented at least over the last two decades..."

Links in full

Huffington PostRichard Chesnoff | Huffington Post | Israel: Doing No Right, Doing No Wrong
New York TimesRoger Cohen | New York Times | The Biden Effect
TimeJoe Klein | Time | Unacceptable Non-Apology
New York TimesThomas Friedman | New York Times | Driving Drunk in Jerusalem
SalonGlenn Greenwald | Salon | Israel rift undermining some long-standing taboos
Talking Points MemoM J Rosenberg| Talking Points Memo | AIPAC Blasts Obama Administration
Wall Street JournalWall Street Journal | Obama's Turn Against Israel
Pajamas MediaRoger Simon | Pajamas Media | Jewish love affair with Democrats about to end?
Balloon JuiceJohn Cole | Balloon Juice | They Aren't Even Going to See It Coming
National ReviewJoel C. Rosenberg | National Review | US-Israeli relations headed for train wreck?
Foreign PolicyDavid Makovsky | Foreign Policy | Settlement Snafu
Real Clear WorldRobert Satloff | Real Clear World | U.S.-Israel Ties After the Biden Visit

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