Israel's announcement of new settlements in East Jerusalem threw a wrench in the works right in the middle of Vice President Biden's visit. The Atlantic Wire has covered the immediate response to the diplomatic slap as well as second-day speculation on Israel's motives for announcing the plans. What do Israeli papers have to say? Here's a roundup from the English-language dailies:
- 'An Embarassing Faux Pas' Points to Larger Problem The editors of Haaretz call Netanyahu's and Interior Minister Eli Yishai's claims of ignorance "ridiculous," but say "the real problem ... is not the timing of the announcement or the act of insulting a crucial ally--which are in themselves quite serious issues." Rather, the problem is the government's Palestinian policy in general, which includes few "conciliatory gestures" and instead "sabotage[s] any chance of an agreement on the issue of Jerusalem."
- Yishai Definitely Guilty--And Good for Him Gideon Levy , also writing in Haaretz, has a different and much more cynical view. "It was exactly the time to call a spade a spade," he writes, and that's precisely what the announcement--which he thinks Yishai really was aware of--did. The peace process wasn't going to go anywhere anyway--"nothing will happen unless [America] exerts real pressure on Israel," he says, while the Palestinians "want neither peace nor state." He calls the event "embarrassing, but not so terrible ... The Americans will soon forgive, the Palestinians will have no choice."
- Biden's Visit Wrong from the Get-Go In The Jerusalem Post, D. Bloomfield makes no mention of the settlement fiasco, but is irritated by this U.S. visit being made by Biden now instead of President Obama a year ago. Too little, too late, he thinks.
- On the Contrary: Biden Visit Showed Real Promise Delighted at the positive body language at the beginning of Biden's visit, the Jerusalem Post editorial board felt this was "everything that an embattled, nervous Jewish nation could dream of," particularly "after almost a year of distance" including President Obama's Islam-friendly speech in Cairo. The settlement announcement was a "staggering example of diplomatic obtuseness," making the Israeli government look incompetent and damaging U.S.-Israeli trust. "Now Israel must set about rebuilding that trust," the editors write.