How did U.S. groups react to Biden's condemnation of Israel?
U.S. VP slammed Israeli decision to approve East Jerusalem construction ahead of indirect peace talks.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's condemnation of Israel's plan to construct 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem was welcomed on Wednesday by advocacy groups and analysts who called for Israel to be held accountable for actions that undermine peace talks with the Palestinians.
The U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation (U.S. Campaign) lauded Biden's statement "condemning the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem" and his promise that the United States will hold Israel "accountable for any statements or actions that inflame tensions or prejudice the outcome of talks."
According to Josh Ruebner, National Advocacy Director of the U.S. Campaign, "It's about time that the Obama administration is threatening to hold Israel accountable for obstructing U.S. policy goals to end illegal settlement expansion in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem and lift the illegal blockade of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian Gaza Strip."
"The Obama administration must move from warnings to concrete steps to hold Israel accountable for its ongoing defiance of U.S. policy goals and international law," Ruebner added. "The most appropriate way of holding Israel accountable would be to cut off the $3 billion in military aid to Israel proposed by President Obama in his FY2011 budget request."
Americans for Peace Now said: "The optimism has already dissipated. The declaration to build in East Jerusalem is a perfect example of what Israel cannot do if it wants to be taken as a serious negotiating partner. The fact that the declaration came during Joe Biden's visit to Israel only adds insult to injury. If the U.S. wants meaning progress, it must put real pressure on the two sides and present clear U.S. principles on the core issues."
Meanwhile, Haim Malka, deputy director and senior fellow in the Middle East Program at Center for Strategic and International Studies, said: "If Netanyahu is at all serious about talks with the Palestinian Authority, this will be just the beginning of his coalition woes. Meanwhile, the Israeli bilateral relationship with the United States has just become much more difficult. It is hard to remember a time when a senior U.S. official used the word 'condemn' to describe the actions of any ally, let alone a close ally such as Israel, but that is precisely what the vice president did."
Abraham Foxman, head of the Anti-Defamation League, called the timing of Israel's decision unfortunate but said it was not Biden's job to issue a condemnation. "The condemnation should have been issued by the State Department in Washington," said Foxman.
"By taking this erroneous step, Biden undermined the central purpose of his trip to Israel - strengthening the friendship and cooperation between Israel and the U.S. "