US special envoy George Mitchell on Tuesday decided to postpone his trip to Israel to kick off indirect peace talks between the Jewish state and the Palestinian Authority. The decision came amid seemingly out-of-control tension between Washington and Jerusalem.
Mitchell was supposed to arrive in Israel on Tuesday, but is presumed to have stayed at home as a response to Israel's decision to build 1,600 new Jewish homes in an area of Jerusalem claimed by the Palestinians.
The new building project was announced during last week's visit by US Vice President Joe Biden, a fact that the Obama Administration characterized as a direct insult.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton phoned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the next day to personally scold him. Things went downhill from there.
Israelis and American supporters of Israel have vehemently condemned the Obama Administration's harsh rhetoric toward Israel, which they say is making it all the more unlikely that current peace efforts will succeed.
According to American media, President Barack Obama himself is directing the hostile response toward Israel, and will continue to do so until Netanyahu flinches and cancels the Jerusalem building project.
That is precisely what the Palestinians want to see, and have said they will not take part in the new negotiations until Israel rescinds the housing decision. Most Israelis recognize that giving in now would mean the end to Israel's ancient claims to an undivided Jerusalem.
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