The Shepherd Hotel site is a case in point. The most important fact about this particular project is that the building permit was granted July 2, just weeks after the Obama administration first signaled that it would object to any new building in the captured territories.
Israel’s timing couldn’t be more provocative. Giving the green light to the project now, after years of delays, may be part of a larger plan to Balkanize East Jerusalem, splitting neighborhoods in such a way that a future political solution for the city becomes impossible.
Or it might have been intended as a signal that Israel would continue to build as Israel saw fit, no matter what Washington said.
Either way, it is “unhelpful,” as Condoleezza Rice said as secretary of state in 2005 about other unilateral steps taken by Israel in East Jerusalem. That was her polite, and not very effective, way of telling Israel to hold off.
I guess that she'd prefer Hillary to put on this face:
Now, Celestine is not totally bereft of logic, for she writes:
President Barack Obama...has begun with a direct and public challenge to Israel’s latest plan to build new settlements in East Jerusalem. It’s a risky move...This gambit puts the settlement issue at the center of the table, even before the next round of Arab-Israeli negotiations starts — if it ever does. The downside is that it might only serve to harden Israel’s stance, without softening Arab positions.
Which it already has.
(Kippah tip: MZ)