Israel digs in as international community goes on the offensive
By: Ryan Jones
Israel on Monday responded to international condemnation over its earlier approval of more Jewish apartments in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria by announcing that an additional 1,600 housing units will now be constructed.
In addition to the 3,000 units approved on Sunday, Israel will now add another 1,600 apartments to the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo, which was at the center of a previous major dispute between Israel and the US over Israel's right to build anywhere in its own capital.
The uncharacteristic hardening of Israel's position in the face of international pressure was sparked by last week's UN vote recognizing "Palestine" as a sovereign state outside the framework of a negotiated peace settlement.
Israel feels that the world's response to that stunt, which most agree was unhelpful in achieving peace, has been grossly hypocritical.
While the Palestinian motion at the UN was a clear violation of its signed agreements with the Jewish state, Israel's punitive approval of more Jewish housing in areas claimed by the Palestinians is not prohibited by those same documents.
Nevertheless, the world immediately backed off criticizing the Palestinian leadership, while accusing Israel of having dealt a "death blow" to all hopes of peace. (That despite the fact that the peace process had been conducted for over 10 years while the Jewish population in Judea and Samaria was growing.)
All major Western European countries summoned the Israeli ambassadors stationed there for rebuke, and Britain and France were reportedly considering sanctions of some sort against the Jewish state.
Though most of the negative response came from Europe, Israeli officials were convinced the Obama Administration was behind it.
"This is a masked threat orchestrated by Washington," a senior Israeli diplomat told Israel's Yediot Ahronot newspaper.
Following Sunday's decision to build new Jewish housing in response to the Palestinian statehood bid, Chicago Mayor and former Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel has launched a serious of vicious verbal attacks against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
First Emanuel called Netanyahu's behavior "unfathomable," then he accused the Israeli leader of repeatedly "betraying" Obama.
There is growing concern in Israel that Obama, via Emanuel, will attempt to influence Israel's upcoming election in order to oust Netanyahu from office. While that is a long-shot, the White House could succeed in making it nearly impossible for Netanyahu to form a stable coalition following the election.