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Laughable WH Claim on Jerusalem: Our Position is Clear

1:57 PM, Nov 17, 2009 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Israel has approved the construction of some 900 housing units in their own capital city, Jerusalem:

... Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he refused to be part of a halt to Jewish and Arab construction in west or east Jerusalem.

"Israeli law does not discriminate between Arabs and Jews, or between east and west of the city," he said in a statement. "The demand to cease construction just for Jews is illegal, also in the US and any other enlightened place in the world."

"It is inconceivable that the US government would demand a construction freeze in the US based on race, religion or sex, and the attempt to demand this from Jerusalem constitutes a double standard and is unacceptable," continued the statement. "The Jerusalem Municipality will continue to enable construction in every part of the city for Jews and Arabs alike."

To which the White House responds:

We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee's decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem. At a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes. Our position is clear: the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

Obviously this administration's approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict has been so successful, there is no need to adjust the rhetoric. Just keep making demands of the Israelis and expressing dismay and offering objections and the peace process will, no doubt, get on back on track any moment now. But let's be clear -- the Obama administration's position on Jerusalem is not clear. From the moment during the campaign that Obama declared "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided," to the subsequent walkback, to the demand that all settlement construction in East Jerusalem come to an end, to the subsequent walkback on that -- nobody knows what this administration's position is on Jerusalem, least of all the parties involved in the peace process.

The only "achievement" this administration can claim is having driven the Israeli public into Bibi's arms, helping him solidify his support across party lines, and destroying President Obama's credibility with the Israeli public -- smart power.