Is Givat HaMatos such a big deal? Not in Washington
On Thursday, I reported on Prime Minister Netanyahu's reaction to the Obama administration going ballistic again over construction in 'east' Jerusalem. If you thought the article I blogged there was over the top, please consider this one from Haaretz's Barak Ravid.
The latest quandary embarrassed Netanyahu. It destroyed his last shreds of credibility and gave a strange, almost ridiculous twist to his speech at the UN and his statement to Obama about integrating the moderate Arab states in the peace process. The new, strategic idea he had brought up now seemed like another one of his spins.
President Obama and his senior advisers go nuts every time they hear the word settlement. They see Israel’s international isolation deepening and the Palestinians advancing a unilateral move in the Security Council, while they have to deal every Monday and Thursday with crises produced by settlements.
“How do such things help me to help you?” Obama asked Netanyahu. Obama and his aides cannot understand how Netanyahu thinks he could advance relations with the moderate Arab states as long as construction in the settlements continues.
“Those moves not only poison the atmosphere with the Palestinians, but also with those Arab states Netanyahu said he wants to build relations with,” said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, shortly after Obama’s meeting with Netanyahu.
At his meeting with reporters, Netanyahu rejected Earnest’s criticism, but did not attack Obama harshly or personally. He used diplomatic clichés to downplay the fiasco. “The tones weren’t loud,” he said. “The conversation was good and open. I highly appreciate the president’s attentiveness.”
But it was clear Obama did not invite Netanyahu to stay for lunch, preferring instead to dine alone with Vice President Joe Biden. One can only guess who those two gossiped about.But Times of Israel's Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, who unlike Ravid lives in Washington, says it's no big deal.
For all the strong language in the Washington statements, according to insiders here, the administration is not interested in turning the issue of Israel’s plans to build some 2,600 units on the southeast Jerusalem hillside into a full-blown crisis.