The first insult was Joe Biden’s in Jerusalem last week; the second insult was directed at Obama personally, while Netanyahu was visiting the White House yesterday. And the timing was perfect.

As Netanyahu was talking to Obama in the White House, an announcement was made in Israel informing that another East Jerusalem housing project had been approved. Can there be any excuse that Netanyahu was taken unawares, especially after the timing apology for the Biden faux pas? Don’t think so.

The Haaretz report of this new incident (New east Jerusalem homes approved hours before Netanyahu-Obama meet) makes that clear: “The local planning council initially approved the plan in July, a move which angered Britain and the United States and prompted them to call on Israel to cancel the plans.” The plan was approved last Thursday and announced the day of Netanyahu’s White House visit.

The Ynet headline, East Jerusalem construction project approved as Netanyahu visits White House, was similarly offensive.

YNET’s Ronen Medzini has an explosive expose, just as Netanyahu is in the White House to mend fences over his last week’s Biden blunder. Here is the gist of it:

The construction project in the Shepherd Hotel site in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem, had been given the final go-ahead by the Jerusalem municipality, just as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is meeting US President Barack Obama.

The project, which includes 20 flats and a parking lot, was given a general permission by the local housing and planning committee in July 2009, triggering a diplomatic row with the United States. Israeli ambassador Michael Oren was summoned for a reprimand, and the Obama administration made clear it expected all preparation for building works on the site had to cease.

However, the approval at the time was general and subject to various constraints.  Last Thursday, the project was given the final go-ahead, an official notice on the Jerusalem Municipality website said. This means work can begin at any time.

Allow me to stress something here: This is not some hitherto anonymous residential ultra-Orthodox neighborhood in East Jerusalem. This is a project Israel had been pointedly warned about by the US just 10 months ago. It seems Netanyahu is not content with presenting Biden with broken glass – he now expects Obama to chew on it, as well.

If anyone believes that Netanyahu’s visit to Washington was aimed at defusing the crisis that began during the Israel visit of Vice President Joe Biden, think again. Yesterday, Netanyahu went well beyond Joe Biden’s embarrassment to thumbing his nose at President Obama while visiting the White House.

In a further development, the Jerusalem Post just reported on a new lobby group inside the Israeli Knesset, comprising right wing party members including Likud, called the Lobby for Greater Israel.

Sabbah’s Blog published a summary:

In The Name Of Greater Israel

On February 2, 2010, the Israeli Knesset held the inaugural meeting of The Lobby for Greater Israel. According to Knesset members Arye Eldad (National Union), “This kind of lobby should have been unnecessary … We could have expected that after disengagement [from Gaza and parts of northern Samaria in 2005] all talk of creating a Palestinian state would have been taken off the table and that no one would try to get rid of settlements … Instead, we are once more hearing about a two-state solution and a [construction] freeze. I am certain that with this unity we can save the Land of Israel”. Made up of 39 Knesset members, out of which 12 from Netanyahu’s Likud party and others from Shas, Israel Beiteinu, Habayit Hayehudi, the National Union, United Torah Judaism and Kadima, the lobby aims at acting as a “protective wall against any threat to the settlements”. Minister-without-portfolio Bennie Begin (Likud) went further than the official mission of the lobby, suggesting that the creation of a Palestinian state threatened Jewish security and rights to the Land of Israel. Yoav Sorek and Moriya Taassan, representing The Israeli Initiative, expressed a similar sentiment during the meeting: “We hope that this important lobby will grow to support Eretz Yisrael and help stop the discrimination against Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria”

(Read further at any of the above links)

Apartheid is inevitable.

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