East Jerusalem construction flap - Obama's latest pretext for attacking Israel?

Ron Kampeas of JTA reports:
Israel's U.S. Ambassador Michael Oren indeed had been “summoned” for a meeting last Friday with James Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state. The summons came as the controversy engendered by Israel’s announcement of new construction in eastern Jerusalem during last week’s visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden showed no sign of abating.

“It wasn’t a meeting,” Oren told the Washington Jewish Week in an interview at a fund-raiser for a Washington-area school on Sunday night. “It was a summoning. I was told it was the first time that any ambassador had been summoned at that level.”

Oren said he is “working hard to avert an escalation. We’re working very hard to get back to what we need to do to make peace and stop Iran from making the bomb. We have apologized publicly and privately profusely.”

Paul Mirengoff interprets at Powerline Blog
The Obama administration, via Hillary Clinton, has harshly rebuked Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for Israel's announcement, during a trip there by Joe Biden, that it will build 1,600 housing units in East Jerusalem. The Washington Postreports that State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described the nearly 45-minute phone conversation between Clinton and Netanyahu in "unusually undiplomatic terms." In fact, a 45 minute phone conversation between parties at this level is unusual, in itself. And Clinton told CNN that "the announcement of the settlements on the very day that the vice president was there was insulting.

"Whether the administration was genuinely insulted is questionable. I suspect that it simply wishes to present itself as an injured party in order to push Israel for concessions. ...

As to the merits of Israel's building plan, Obama and Clinton have no case. Israel did agree to a 10-month building moratorium, but the moratorium plainly did not include East Jerusalem. And the White House's claim that the new construction will complicate a potential settlement of issues relating to East Jerusalem is garbage. As Rick Richman points out, "the area in question is one that will not be yielded to the Palestinians in any conceivable peace agreement (even one that would divide sovereignty between Jewish and Arab areas) because it is a longstanding Jewish community, not an Arab one."

In any event, there's no reason why Israelis should deny themselves housing while they wait for the Palestinian Authority to make peace. The potential beneficiaries of the housing would probably like to see the construction completed during their lifetime.

But this flap doesn't seem to be about the merits. More likely, it's about President Obama's antipathy for Israel and his desire to put Israel on the defensive.
AIPAC appealed to the Administration to reduce its pressure against Israel: "The Administration should make a conscious effort to move away from public demands and unilateral deadlines directed at Israel, with whom the United States shares basic, fundamental, and strategic interests.

The escalated rhetoric of recent days only serves as a distraction from the substantive work that needs to be done with regard to the urgent issue of Iran 's rapid pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the pursuit of peace between Israel and all her Arab neighbors.

We strongly urge the Administration to work closely and privately with our partner Israel, in a manner befitting strategic allies, to address any issues between the two governments.

Senators John McCain and Joseph Lieberman held this colloquy on the topic on the Senate floor today.