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Is Hillary’s ‘deeply negative signal’ a deeply positive signal?

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The Obama Administration finally realized its credibility was in tatters after the shenanigans of this week in Israel. With the President apparently sedated and the Vice President hoarse from crooning love songs to Israel, it was decided to have the top wimps step aside and let the only one in the Administration with any guts crack the whip.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not only called Prime Minister Netanyahu today, she also had her spokesman P. J. Crowley inform reporters that for forty minutes she delivered "a stinging rebuke" to Netanyahu "to make clear that the United States considered the announcement [this week of new Jewish housing in East Jerusalem] to be a deeply negative signal about Israel’s approach to the bilateral relationship and counter to the spirit of the Vice President’s trip."

"The secretary said she could not understand how this happened, particularly in light of the United States’ strong commitment to Israel’s security and she made clear that the Israeli government needed to demonstrate not just through words but through specific actions that they are committed to this relationship and to the peace process."

Significantly, spokesman Crowley "stressed that the United States objected to both the content and timing of the announcement" and said Clinton had "reinforced that this action had undermined trust and confidence in the peace process and in America’s interests."

Considering Obama’s current political problems, it is hard to believe that this week’s events could be a tipping point in U.S. – Israeli relations. But considering the hole that the administration has dug for itself in the Mideast, it is not impossible that the Israeli slap in the face served as a wake-up call. The Quartet – which denounced the Israeli settlement announcement shortly after Clinton’s phone call was made known – is scheduled to meet next Friday in Moscow. What actions the Quartet takes will give a better indication whether this is a one week flap or an actual change in U.S. policy.

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