Bad News All Around

Compare and contrast: The Associated Press reports that a “Parade of [U.S.] officials [is] to caution Israel”:

The Obama administration is dispatching four of its most senior foreign policy and security figures to Israel this coming week with the same message on two open questions causing friction between the close allies: Don’t do it.
Taking a firmer line with Israel than the Bush administration, President Barack Obama is urging Israel to stop all settlement construction in the West Bank or risk closing off the most promising avenues for peace negotiations.
Washington also wants Israel to shelve any plan for a military strike to sabotage Iran’s nuclear facilities, arguing that Obama’s offer of engagement and talks with Iran deserves time to bear fruit.

So: don’t defend yourselves or let your people build houses.
The contrasting story is from the U.K., not the U.S., but the connection is apparent. AFP reports: “Britain urged to engage with Hamas moderates”:

The British government was urged to start engaging with moderates in Hamas in a report by lawmakers scrutinising London’s foreign policy published on Sunday. The House of Commons’ Foreign Affairs Committee said that not talking to Hamas — the Palestinian Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip — was achieving little.
Britain refuses to talk to Hamas until it accepts the principles of the international Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States — of non-violence and acceptance of Israel’s existence.
“We see few signs that the current policy of non-engagement with Hamas is achieving the Quartet’s stated objectives,” said committee chairman Mike Gapes.
“We therefore reiterate our recommendation from 2007, that the government should urgently consider engaging with moderate elements within Hamas.”

The U.S. State Department has long suffered from the delusion that if only the Israelis could be different–somehow–then the multiple pathologies that afflict the Arab world would miraculously be resolved. This is a profoundly stupid idea, but it has been ascendant in Europe for a long time and in the Obama administration it is ascendant here, too.

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