The left-wing organization Peace Now has manufactured a crisis out of a symbolic order, signed by the mayor of Jerusalem, authorizing continued construction of homes in eastern Jerusalem. The housing project had been approved in 2012, and half of the new units had been set aside for Jerusalem Arabs. Why should the White House, the State Department, and the media have pounced on it as evidence of of Israeli bad faith? Elliott Abrams speculates:
The administration reaction is curious given that this is not new news, given that Arabs and Jews will live in the housing, and given the remarkably negative speech that Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas gave to the UN last week. The State Department rejected Abbas’s speech as “offensive” and “deeply disappointing.” I suppose it’s possible that the President now wanted to “balance” things by adding tough words for Israel.
But if this was a victory of sorts for Peace Now, it was no victory for the Obama administration or for those who seek peace negotiations. Building new housing for Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem does not in fact “call into question Israel’s ultimate commitment to a peaceful negotiated settlement with the Palestinians,” the foolish and extreme phrase of both the White House spokesman and the State Department.