Maybe Chickenshitgate (must credit “and that’s the way it was”) has left the Obama folks a little gun shy:
The United States has described as “unfortunate” plans by the Israeli government to build 500 new illegal settler homes in East Jerusalem.
The US response came after a panel of the Israeli Interior Ministry gave approval on Monday for the new homes in Ramat Shlomo, a neighbourhood built on West Bank territory captured in the 1967 war and annexed to Jerusalem.
The announcement by Jerusalem’s Planning and Building Committee to approve construction of 500 housing units in Ramat Shlomo is the first step in a long series of approvals needed before actual construction can begin and the process should take years.
The US criticised the decision, re-iterating its view that settlements are “illegitimate“.
“Yeah,” the US added, “and those dead kids on the beach in Gaza were a real, ah, bummer, man.”
Coincidentally, the Chickenshit thing, Susan Rice’s spat with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, and this tepid denunciation of more illegal settlement building are all happening while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in the case of Zivotofsky v. Kerry, a lawsuit brought by Ari and Nomi Zivotofsky against the State Department over their son Menachem’s passport. Menachem was born in Jerusalem, and given Jerusalem’s status as an “international city” under U.S. law, passports for U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem read “Jerusalem” as their birthplace. The Zivotofskys want Menachem’s passport to read “Israel” as his birthplace. The case tests the constitutionality of a 2002 law requiring the State Department to list “Israel” as the place of birth for citizens born in Jerusalem if the parents (or, when old enough, the citizen him or herself) request it, a law that the State Department has consistently rejected as unconstitutional Congressional interference in the Executive Branch’s conduct of foreign policy (GW Bush appended one of his special signing statements to the law to this effect).
Congress does have the power to regulate passports, but given that this particular law could be seen (or, in other words, “is”) a backdoor effort to enshrine the status of Jerusalem as an Israeli city in U.S. law (and not actually that backdoor; the 2002 law is called “United States Policy With Respect to Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel”), it actually represents a major overreach by Congress into the conduct of foreign policy. If the Court sides with Zivotofsky, it will deal a huge blow to American efforts to at least try to pretend to be a neutral arbiter in the Israel-Palestine dispute.