Apparently, some things cannot be tolerated. For example, while Vice President Joe Biden was visiting Israel last week, Jerusalem's Regional Planning Council announced its approval of plans to construct apartments for 1,600 Israeli families in Israel's capital, Jerusalem. "I condemn the decision by the government of Israel to advance planning for new housing units in East Jerusalem," Biden said in a statement. "Condemn" is a word seldom used in diplomatic parlance - least of all in reference to an ally.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately offered profuse apologies but top Obama advisor David Axelrod nevertheless appeared on a Sunday talk show to complain that the White House had suffered "an affront, an insult." Commentators on National Public Radio fumed that Israel's behavior was "a slap in the face" and "too much to bear."
Apparently, other things are not so difficult to tolerate. For example, Fatah, the Palestinian organization that wields power on the West Bank, last week named a square in the town of El Bireh in memory of Dalal Mughrabi, the terrorist who in 1978 hijacked an Israeli bus and massacred 37 Israeli civilians -- 13 of them children -- and an American photographer. No one in the Obama administration or the elite media seemed to think this deserved condemnation or even serious criticism. .
How do you explain the strange calculus that condemns building homes for citizens and condones celebrating terrorism? You start by understanding not how the "peace process" works - because it doesn't - but how "peace processors" think.
They have convinced themselves that the Palestinians will make peace with the Israelis when and if the Israelis make sufficient concessions. So the pressure must always be on the Israelis to offer more concessions.
Building apartments in Ramat Shlomo -- a Jewish neighborhood that has become overcrowded and therefore requires denser housing -- signals that the Israelis mean to stay in Jerusalem. That's not really surprising: Jews have lived in Jerusalem for the past 3,000 years. But, in the view of the peace processors, offering part of Jerusalem for inclusion in a future Palestinian state is a concession that will be necessary in exchange for Palestinian agreement to halt terrorism and recognize Israel as a permanent presence in the Middle East.