Israel and the Palestinian Authority: Resigning to Status Quo

Beverley Milton-Edwards

In March 2010, U.S. vice president Joe Biden stood by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu in Jerusalem and was lauded as Israel’s friend, symbolizing, the “unbreakable bond” between Israel and the U.S. administration headed by President Barack Obama. The purpose of Biden’s visit was to provide impetus to the Israeli and Palestinian leadership as the U.S. president’s team sought to breathe life into an expiring peace process.

The bond that Netanyahu referred to, however, would be severely tested within hours of the meeting when an official in his government announced that Israel would commence construction of1,600 housing units in Jerusalem on land that the international community officially viewed as occupied territories. The announcement was considered an act of pure defiance in the face of the Obama administration’s call to halt illegal settlement building—considered fundamental to reviving peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Vice President Biden condemned the Israeli announcement, declaring that it undermined trust “at a time when we should all be building some trust.” In private, Obama administration officials fumed at the perceived insult to the vice president that Netanyahu’s government appeared to deliver with the announcement of the settlements. Signaling an ongoing breach in U.S.-Israeli relations as well as attempts to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this indicated the start of an unusual power struggle as the Obama administration attempts peace mediation. In this chapter, the legacy of foreign policy relations inherited by the Obama administration and the developing position of the administration toward U.S. relations in the Middle East region, as well as concepts of power, are addressed. Along with these issues, the extent to which the bond between Israel and the United States had been tested and its implications for the Palestinian Authority (PA), led by President Mahmoud Abbas, are examined.

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