The condemnation following Israel's announcement that it was building 1600 new homes for Jews to live in last week was predictable. From Joe Biden through Hillary Clinton and down to the liberal anti-Israel press, the idea that Israel would dare to build on its own land raised the usual spectrum of criticism.
On the surface, the criticism does seem justified. The timing - during Joe Biden's trip to the region - was admittedly poor. The announcement seems to go against Israel's own promise to engage in a building freeze in "the disputed territories" which further undermine's the Netanyahu government's credibility.
However, scratch beneath the surface and a different perspective arises.
The first is to address the American government's outrage at the announcement. Exactly what was wrong with it? The new units are slated to be built in the eastern half of Yerushalayim. When Netanyahu announced the building freeze, he expressively excluded Yerushalayim from it. Therefore, this announcement does not break any agreements or promises.
The second is the issue of embarrassment. The problem with the United States claiming that this announcement undermines their efforts ignores the reality that the Obama administration itself has done whatever it can to overtly support Israel's enemies over the last year while paying little more than lip service to the traditional U.S. - Israel alliance. Joe Biden himself has a long history of less than enthuasiatic support for Israel while Obama is on record as saying that he believes Israel only exists because of the Holocaust, not because we have a millenia-old claim to the land. That's not insulting? Apparently the U.S. can say whatever it wants but Israel is held to a different standard.
This announcement is an opportunity for Bibi Netanyahu to make it clear that there are still red lines that the Israeli government will not cross and that if these lines are too far over for our enemies, there is no point in meaningless peace talks that will consist of unreasonable demands from the other side and pathetic encouragement from our "friends" to take a chance for peace.