The Obama administration's unhappiness with Israel has now resulted in the special envoy delaying his trip to the Middle East and a call from House Minority Whip Eric Cantor to White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel. Politico reports that Cantor (R-VA) told Emanuel to "pull back and lower the volume" last night. Cantor said the recent rhetoric seemed to be an "opportunistic move by an administration that wants to impose its view ... onto our ally."
Last week, Israel announced that it would build housing in disputed East Jerusalem during Vice President Biden's visit; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed he didn't know about the announcement and apologized. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the announcement "insulting" and, in a call to Netanyahu, demanded that Israel not build the housing in east Jerusalem, "make a substantial gesture toward the Palestinians, and publicly declare that all of the 'core issues' in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including the status of Jerusalem, be included in upcoming talks."
The president of the Zionist Organization of America, Morton Klein, said, "American criticism of Israel building in Jerusalem is racist." And former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. Itamar Rabinovich also weighed in, saying, "I think that on the part of the Obama administration the problem is there is a perception in Israel that this is not a friendly administration. The administration, I think, will have to rethink what is wrong in the DNA of its attitude towards Israel." And Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said, "Let’s cut the family fighting. It’s unnecessary; it’s destructive of our shared national interest. It’s time to lower voices, to get over the family feud between the U.S. and Israel. It just doesn’t serve anybody’s interests but our enemies’."
The White House suddenly postponed special envoy George Mitchell's trip, intended to wrap up preparations for peace talks, to the Middle East yesterday. However, the NY Times reports, "American and Israeli officials also made clear that the core security issues binding the two countries were not in jeopardy, and that what was happening was closer to a married couple having a bad fight rather than seeking a divorce."