Biden late for dinner

The Associated Press reports that after the Israeli government humiliated the US Vice President Joe Biden, the minister responsible says he’s sorry:

Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai, whose office announced the latest construction plans in east Jerusalem, apologized Wednesday for disrupting Biden’s visit. But he said the problem was merely about timing, not substance.

“We had no intention, no desire, to offend or taunt an important man like the vice president during his visit,” Yishai told Israel Radio. “I am very sorry for the embarrassment … Next time we need to take timing into account.”

Ministry spokeswoman Efrat Orbach said the ministry routinely issues announcements of planning decisions immediately after they are taken. But this is not the first time that such announcements have dovetailed with visits by top U.S. officials. Plans for hundreds of settlement apartments were announced during the peace mission of former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The Israeli announcement drew an unusually harsh condemnation from Biden late Tuesday. And in an apparent snub Tuesday night, Biden pointedly arrived 90 minutes late to his scheduled dinner with Netanyahu

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Biden, who had come to try to smooth relations with a longtime ally and promote new peace talks, denounced Israel’s plans to build 1,600 housing units in traditionally Arab East Jerusalem as a threat to the search for peace.

“I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem,” Biden said, calling it “precisely the kind of step that undermines the trust we need right now.”

“We must build an atmosphere to support negotiations, not complicate them,” Biden said.

The sharp turn of events abruptly changed the tenor of the trip in its second day, coming just hours after the vice president proclaimed his love for Israel and declared enduring U.S. support. Biden’s visit followed a year of tension brought on by Israel’s defiance of the Obama administration’s admonitions on precisely the same issue: housing settlements in disputed areas.

Obama administration cheerleaders like J Street might get a kick out of hearing Biden being harshly critical of the Israeli government, but what’s a denunciation like this really worth?

The administration either needs to threaten to apply real pressure on the Israeli government, or, if it wants to confine itself to diplomatic gestures then it should do so under the tutelage of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

In response to Israel’s latest contemptuous behavior, Biden could — he really could — have turned around and said adiós. He does after all belong to an administration that less than a year ago was advising Netanyahu to complete his “homework” on freezing settlements before it would be worth arranging a meeting.

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  1. Joe, you should have just come home and brought the most recent dollars for Isreal ack with you. Leat wise stop payment on the check!

  2. Strelnikov says:

    I think the White House is afraid of any true popular reaction from Israelis if we “cancelled the check” as Rick puts it – I hope we haven’t already forgotten Max Blumenthal’s street interviews of the Taglit fratboys and PO’ed young Sephardics in Jerusalem last summer: all of them felt snubbed that Obama didn’t come to Israel first, and they were willing to use racist language not far removed from the KKK or any skinhead group, including assasination talk. Recently at the University of Irvine in California, Israeli Ambassador Oren was repeatedly heckled by Muslim students, who then individually left after disrupting his speech. Even though the protesters left peacefully, after the first heckle, some apparatchik from the university took the lectern and had campus police arrest hecklers from that point on, resulting in many students being forced out of the room in handcuffs. Oren was speaking not only to an audience of interested students but also any pro-Israel Jews as a form of “propaganda boost” following the Gaza slaughter, so the stage was decked in American and Israeli flags, and the lectern had the state seal of Israel as well. Despite the arrests and the university flunkie proclaiming that the protestors would be expelled from the school for breaking some speech code (which like the protests, was captured on video and put on YouTube), the Zionist Organization of America began boycotting the University the next day, and every Jewish/Israeli funder was told by the ZOA to stop any support of the University of Irvine, which I think is a campus of the University of California system. This was only one evening at one college; can you imagine the “wailing and knashing of teeth” if the US stopped funding the Israeli military? The right-wing pundits, the arms manufacturers, the GOP, the Zionist Democrats, the pro-military Democrats, the Pentagon, the Anti-Defamation League, AIPAC, and possibly Jon Stewart (definitely for Stephen Colbert) would hit the airwaves, the fax machines, the papers, and the Intertubes with a such a horrendous screech the order would be recinded after a few hours. Thus we will have to suffer a crushing Soviet-style collapse as a country to cut our ties with Israel, but then we would also lose some sort of “contact/control” over Turkey, Egypt (Hosni Mubarak or his successor would be a dead man), Saudi Arabia (all their aristos would be in Zurich within a hour), and Iraq (only the Kurds would be crying), and I know there are many other petro-states in the region we do business with but don’t supply weapons to, or we may only sell them simple stuff like rifles or military trucks. So these simple snubs like Biden being late or the State Department sending a “strongly-worded letter” to the Knesset (which is roundfiled after being read into the record) might be as far as the present administration dares to go, unless the Israelis go for the stupidity trifecta and bomb Iranian nuclear sites. Then all bets are off.

    The Blumenthal video is at
    The video was kicked off Mondoweiss, Vimeo, the Huffington Post, maybe YouTube.

    There are now multiple copies of the Michael Oren heckling video (cut down to five minutes) on YouTube; the original poster has the video in two 9-minute chunks (under the title “Uncivilized Tactics at UC Irvine”) at

  3. DE Teodoru says:

    Here we go again, the never ending assumption by a “kept” government that it is dealing with a “dumb goyim” Democrat who will lick anything for Jewish votes….Expect surprises from now on. Bernie Madoff will not have been Israel’s worst nightmare!

  4. David R. Evans says:

    The US values regional hegemonic status quo more than it fears increasingly becoming a pariah for its continuing support of Israel’s crimes, otherwise the “unbreakable bond” vomit would quit flowing from the mouths of our leaders. Israel gets to continue expanding onto stolen lands while the US has instability as excuse for military presence next to the oil sumps, so Palestinians will continue to be starved and moved out of the way until the rest of the world says. “ENOUGH!” and changes the UN Security Council rules that will limit US veto power and allow more than 100 UN Resolutions against Israel that have been blocked by our government that is complicit in Israel’s war crimes and crimes against humanity. It is my hope that failing US capitalism will bring this necessary change so that Palestinians will eventually find justice in ONE STATE , a land once again free of Zionist apartheid racism. Please see: