Policy, not timing, is the issue

I don’t like posting on Israel-Palestine because I don’t really have a dog in that fight and I think that while it is an important global issue, its importance is often overemphasized by bloggers, pundits, politicians, and diplomats.

That said, I’m confused about the recent flap. From what I gather, Vice President Biden went to Israel and, while he was there, the Israeli government announced settlement expansion in the West Bank — which embarrassed Biden and the US, because of our government’s demand that Israel hault settlement expansion as a sign of good faith to restart peace talks. Now there’s fallout in the US and Israeli press and speculation about whether the bad timing was the result of incompetence by PM Netanyahu’s government or whether it was a deliberate insult.

Am I the only one who thinks that the actual timing of the announcement doesn’t matter at all? And for that matter, framing the gaff as an ‘insult’ makes it look as if we were all a bunch of Victorians for whom nothing matters more than appearance and fictional good relations. The real issue is that the US wants one thing on settlements, and Israel won’t play ball. We’ve known this for many months now, and Israel’s announcement (and the timing thereof) changes nothing. Over on this side of the world, I think our ego’s are healthy enough to withstand an announcement of an unfavorable policy by an Israeli government official while our own government official is speaking elsewhere in the same troubled country. Making this out to be about pride obscures the real issues — though it does play nicely with the press’s need to personalize every issue and ignore substance.

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This is a group blog. JSC5 currently writes from the US. JSC7 writes from behind the Great Firewall of China.

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