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Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Indispensable Biden Moment

Krauthammer calls it an "incident" of "timing". Of course, he's right. Without the Biden snub, no one would have noticed. Israel could have gone along, promising freezes yet building, even building illegally by Israeli standards of legal. (Someone recently decided that a gap between existing buildings was a security risk that needed to be plugged with more housing units ... that's how brazen it's gotten).

Face it, no one would have so publicly examined the ripeness of Netanyahu's coalition to the task we all want from it, had Biden not been there.

No way that a ground-breaking or a new apartment in Ramat Shlomo makes the headlines in America. Clinton's prior "denunciation" of the 80 units to be demolished in East Jerusalem was drown out, by the health care "debate". Most of Obama's tribulations with the Netanyahu government, last year, went by unseen, buried in his favorable/unfavorable polls.

We would not have gotten this (the long battle for Jerusalem) on the pages of the WSJ, perhaps laying plain why "final status" arrangements are always a step too far, for so many, for so long, now.

Nor would we have gotten this key insight, from the Knesset, a super-majority of whom are sending AIPAC a "terms sheet" for their lobbying, including something called "national areas of Jerusalem":

“we, the undersigned members of Knesset, who represent different approaches and world-views regarding the desirable permanent-status arrangement, are unified behind the policy of all Israeli governments to this day, regarding our attachment to the historical and national areas of Jerusalem and the right of the State of Israel to actualize our control in its Jewish neighborhoods in all parts of the city – neighborhoods that constitute an inseparable part of Jerusalem that will remain in our hands in any future permanent status arrangement.

“We support the continuation of building and development in all of the neighborhoods without any restriction or delay,”

So, Krauthammer can use the word "generous" all he wants, but any dispassionate observer, one who, say, knew little of the history of the conflict, would simply scratch their heads and conclude that Israel built - literally built - obstacles to a final agreement, at least insofar as it is unwilling to negotiate land based on these very settlements.