Last night, President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on the phone to discuss key issues of concern between the U.S. and Israel. As reported this morning, the call had to do with the Obama administration’s efforts to heal the rift between Israel and Turkey, efforts which have apparently been scuttled by Netanyahu.
Via the Israeli news site YNet, “The Prime Minister’s Office stated that the phone conversation between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama was ‘friendly and touched on political and economic issues that are on both countries’ agenda.’”
The White House issued this readout of the call:
President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu today to consult on regional issues and efforts to achieve Middle East peace. The Prime Minister expressed appreciation for U.S. support for Israel’s security, in particular the Iron Dome short-range rocket and mortar defense system. The two leaders agreed to continue to work closely together to address common security concerns.
And here’s how Israel thanked its most important ally this morning:
Israel’s interior minister gave final authorization to build 1,600 apartments in disputed east Jerusalem and will approve 2,700 more in days, officials said Thursday, detailing a plan that could complicate diplomatic efforts to dissuade Palestinians from declaring statehood at the United Nations.
The announcement drew immediate criticism from the Palestinians, and from Israel’s leading anti-settlement group, which accused the government of seizing on mass protests over housing costs to give economic justification to the always explosive issue of building in the holy city.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office knew the construction plans were moving ahead, Interior Ministry spokesman Roi Lachmanovich said. An earlier approval for the 1,600-apartment project embarrassed Netanyahu and caused a diplomatic rift with the U.S. because it coincided with a visit to Israel by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
In addition to the Obama administration’s unprecedented military support for Israel, and its significantly deepened intelligence cooperation with Israel on the Iranian nuclear issue, the Obama administration is currently using up an enormous amount of diplomatic energy and capital on Israel’s behalf in trying to head off the Palestinians’ bid for UN recognition.
The Netanyahu government’s idea of gratitude is to announce thousands of new settlement homes in occupied areas of Jerusalem, further undermining the moderate Palestinian leadership, and embarrassing (once again) its key patron and gratuitously complicating its efforts to achieve its goals.