Another handy reminder of who runs the Middle East conflict

US Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Israel has been, in the words of the Daily Beast, “disastrous“:

Just as Biden arrived in Israel, the Interior Ministry announced the construction of 1,600 new housing units for Jewish residents in East Jerusalem, a move many, including many in the Obama administration, have interpreted as a deliberate provocation.

It’s hard to see the awkwardness of Biden’s visit so far having a broader political impact. But it does contribute to the impression, fair or unfair, that President Obama is presiding over an era of diminished American influence, in which allies and rivals alike feel comfortable thumbing their noses at a White House focused above all else on its domestic priorities.

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