Commentary: Israel's settlements deal another blow to peace

United States-Israeli relations have sunk to their lowest point in 35 years, and that is not in the best interest of either country.

The proposed construction of additional Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory dims hope for peace, prompting the Obama administration to pressure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters to back off the settlement expansions.

The new low emerged with Israel’s ill-timed and controversial announcement of 1,600 new homes in East Jerusalem, revealed as Vice President Joe Biden arrived last week. While that was bad theater and put Biden in a defensive position, the deeper problem is the content of that announcement. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly noted: "This was an affront, it was an insult, but most importantly it undermined this very fragile effort to bring peace to that region."

Israel can't bring about peace on its own, of course. Palestinians have to commit to a cessation of violence and must recognize Israel's right to exist.

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