Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already made his position clear, but over the weekend he officially refused U.S. demands to halt housing construction in occupied East Jerusalem. The White House has delayed negotiations while waiting for an official reply.

This is not what President Obama wanted to hear.

In the days since, Obama sent a message to American Jews: “All sides should understand that our commitment to Israel is unshakeable and that no wedge will be driven between us.” Haaretz reports that Obama has been under pressure at home, including from Nobel laureate Elie Wisel, who took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post. The ad said, among other things, “ … The first song I heard was my mother’s lullaby about and for Jerusalem.”

The White House and Palestinian leaders have said a settlement freeze that includes East Jerusalem is a precondition for peace negotiations. The Israeli government just threw the ball back in Obama’s court, officially.

Maybe he’ll just drop it, hints AP:

Last week, Obama issued a surprisingly pessimistic assessment of peacemaking prospects, saying the U.S. couldn’t force its will on Israelis and Palestinians if they weren’t interested in making the compromises necessary to end their decades-old conflict.



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