Is Israel Testing the U.S.?

More settlements just before Netanyahu-Obama meeting

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The rough month of U.S.-Israel tension is getting even worse. After Vice President Joe Biden's Israel trip was undermined by Israel's surprise announcement of settlement growth, and after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton admonished Israel in a speech to AIPAC, President Obama's meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu was rocked by the announcement, just minutes before they met in Washington, that Israeli officials had approved even more settlements. The Netanyahu-Obama meeting was private and ended without comment. But things can't be going well.

  • This Is Not Exactly Netanyahu's Fault Foreign Policy's Joshua Keating reminds us that this settlement deal was actually announced last July. So, unlike the legitimately shocking settlement announcement before Biden's visit, this is not really a surprise.
  • U.S. Shows Israel Good Faith, Gets Slapped Spencer Ackerman asks, "What has Netanyahu done since the Biden 'insult' to demonstrate his commitment for peace? What got him the White House visit and the restoration of [U.S. Special Envoy] George Mitchell's travel to the region?" He quips, "What Did The Five Fingers Say To The Global Superpower And Patron?"
  • Netanyahu Pressured Domestically The New York Times' Helene Cooper says he is "struggling to balance diplomacy with a fractious domestic political alliance that put him in power." She notes his faltering ties with the U.S. over settlements, with Britain over the recent killings in Dubai. "Mr. Netanyahu finds himself at odds with the United States and Britain partly because of the coalition he is having to manage at home."
  • Driven by Internal Israeli Politics The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg explains, "Mainly the problem is a system that gives disproportionate power to small, sometimes-revanchist parties, without whom governments these days can't be formed. I don't buy the conspiracy theory that claims Bibi knew about the Shas announcement but let it happen during Biden's visit; this makes absolutely no sense. Bibi, of all Israeli leaders, knows the importance of his country's alliance with the U.S."
  • The U.S.-Israel Chill Politico's Laura Rozen and Ben Smith report of the Obama-Netanyahu meeting, "The Obama administration shifted this week from red hot anger at Benjamin Netanyahu to an icier suspicion toward the Israeli Prime Minister, who made clear in a marathon of meetings with U.S. officials that he would give ground only grudgingly on their goal of stopping the continued construction of new Israeli housing units on disputed territory."
  • Obama Needs to Think Bigger Think tanker Brian Katulis tells Politico, "President Obama has had the right end goal - a comprehensive resolution to the conflict with a two-state solution at its core, but he has thus far lacked a clear and effective strategy to achieve meaningful progress toward that goal. The time has come for his team to stop focusing on individual tactics and unveil a more comprehensive strategy that engages not only Israelis and Palestinians, but also countries like Syria and Saudi Arabia."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.