High noon in the middle east

From Prospect Magazine:

Grenade “Netanyahu thinks he is the superpower,” remarked Bill Clinton bitterly in 1996, “and we are here to do whatever he requires.” Today, as the Americans and the Israelis refuse to budge on the fraught issue of settlements in East Jerusalem, this statement rings truer than ever. US-Israeli relations are at a historic low. But the current standoff is about much more than settlement-building. Underlying it is Washington’s concern that Netanyahu’s repeated gestures of provocation—like the establishment of Jewish heritage sites in the Palestinian territories—are drawing the region towards a conflict unprecedented since 1948. And this time there is a nuclear dimension.

The widely-reported Israeli “insult” to the US—publishing tenders for the construction of apartments in the contested territory of East Jerusalem just as Vice President Joe Biden was in the country announcing peace talks—was considered so audacious that Obama’s tough response has been largely supported, even in overwhelmingly pro-Israel America. The same was the case for Clinton in 1996. This time, however, US-Israeli differences run far deeper. The muffled drums of war have been gathering volume in the middle east for some time, and Obama is seizing the chance to send a clear message: that the US will not be drawn into conflict by the Israelis.

More here.