Was Biden-Israel flap prearranged?

March 11, 2010

Before the Jewish community of Baltimore accepts Vice President Biden's rebuke of Israel's announcement that it will expand the settlements in East Jerusalem as further evidence that the Obama administration is unsympathetic to Israel, please consider this:

• Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has advanced his position among his supporters by acting despite apparent American opposition;

• Mr. Biden and the Obama Administration advance their political interests by appearing to deny lock-step support for every Israeli action;

• America appears to be a more independent broker to the Arab world and to the rest of the world;

• Settlements are built and the issue of of further expansion becomes a bargaining chip in negotiations rather than a prenegotiations concession by Israel with no prid pro quo.

Israel's "insult" to Vice President Biden -- "shocking" him during his visit by making the announcement of their intention to expand the settlements was, I submit, prearranged. Mr. Biden's rebuke of Israel, without so much as a cabinet meeting to discuss the response was, I submit, similarly prearranged. Let's get smart here. The U.S. and Israel are strong allies. "Rifts" such as this don't just happen. Israel wins, the U.S. wins, and hopefully America's influence in negotiations with non-fanatical Palestinians is improved. Just one man's opinion, but it seems awfully logical and likely to me.

Daniel J. Pearl, Owings Mills

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