Joe in Israel (Day 3)

It appears thatMahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has refused to participate in the indirect talks that brought Mr. Biden to the ME in the first place.Abbas demands that the Israelis cancel the building plans announced on Tuesday and that threw a monkey wrench into Biden's visit and the whole unpeace process.Nontheless, VP Biden slogged on with his "best friends forever" views in a speech at an Israeli university, even while having attacked the housing decision while visiting President Abbas in Ramallah. The report of his speech here: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1155720.htmlJuan Cole's sober assessment: Thursday, March 11, 2010: "Obama's Mideast policy lies in tatters this morning and US credibility as a broker of any future settlement was deeply wounded."Amr Moussa, the secretary-general of the Arab League, announced Wednesday that he had been informed by Palestine Authority president Mahmoud Abbas that the latter has pulled out of indirect talks with Israel. Late Wednesday, the Arab League itself reversed its earlier cautious endorsement of the proximity talks, recommending that that support be dropped." http://www.juancole.com/Jo Ann Mort offers this who, what, why of the housing announcement: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2010/03/11/building_for_ultra-orthodox_jews_in_jerusalem/#more

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels is a former editor of Commonweal. 

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