Israel leaders for half a century have sought opportunities to work with Palestinian leaders interested in peace, and finally individuals like President Abbas have appeared and committed to peace negotiations. On Sunday, Palestinian officials announced they were willing to re-enter negotiations despite anger over continued housing settlement in the West Bank. So, what does the Israel government decide on Tuesday– they will construct 1,600 new houses in East Jerusalem for ultra Orthodox Jews!! Vice President Joe Biden who is in Israel to further peace efforts reacted with anger at the announcement. “I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem.” He was upset at the timing of the decision, particularly the launching of new discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
As Joe Biden noted, the decision undermines efforts at peace and at this time there is need to build an atmosphere to support negotiations, “not complicate them.” There is only one decision open to the United States government–withdraw its ambassador from Israel and announce an end to any aid until the Netanyahu government gets serious about peace talks.