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Page last updated at 11:56 GMT, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Middle East press unmoved by Biden visit

US Vice President Joe Biden, left,  with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Tuesday, March 9, 2010
US Vice President Biden (L) with Israeli PM Netanyahu in Jerusalem

Press commentators in Israel and the Palestinian territories have given a subdued response to the visit of US Vice-President Joe Biden to Israel shortly after a new round of indirect negotiations between the two sides was announced.

Israeli papers recognised that the visit was aimed at reaffirming relations with the US, but some acknowledged that the spirit of the trip was undermined by the news that Israel had approved the construction of 1,600 new housing units in East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian press, already cool on the prospect of indirect negotiations, were also unenthused by Biden's visit, with two papers saying he was more interested in Iranian issues than Palestinian ones.

EDITORIAL IN ISRAELI JERUSALEM POST

After nearly a year of the Obama administration keeping a platonic distance from Israel and refraining from any demonstrative public acts of affection, Vice-President Joe Biden smooched Israel full on the mouth in the middle of the public square… It was clear that Biden was on a mission to reassure an Israeli public not fully confident in Obama's support.

BEN KASPIT IN ISRAELI MA'ARIV

Joe Biden, arrived here in an attempt to rehabilitate the chemistry between the White House and Jerusalem… And what happened? Within fifteen minutes, we also lost him. The closest man to [Israeli PM Binyamin] Netanyahu in Washington got the usual treatment, where the guest returns to his capital angry and humiliated.

AKIVA ELDAR IN HA'ARETZ

Joe Biden, who came to Israel determined to embrace Netanyahu all the way to indirect talks with the Palestinian Authority, swore allegiance to the security of Israel, but was slapped in the face with such force that it was heard in Washington.

YOAZ HENDEL IN ISRAELI YEDIOT AHARONOT

Yet again a visit of US envoys, yet again declarations about talks with the Palestinians and yet again speeches intended to promise what it is impossible to keep… And there is no one to point a finger and say the emperor is naked… Here we need relative calm; peace later.

DR AYMAN ABU-NAHIYAH IN PALESTINIAN FILASTIN

The US administration that endorsed the Roadmap, Annapolis and the indirect negotiations is unable to force the Netanyahu government to stop the settlement activity in the Palestinian territories even for a single day? So in the light of this, will it be able to achieve any progress in the peace process via indirect negotiations?

ADIL ABD-AL-RAHMAN IN PALESTINIAN AL-HAYAT AL-JADIDAH

At a time when we are looking at US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit with some hope that he might move forwards in reinvigorating the political process which the Israeli state of apartheid has prevented from tangibly progressing, ... the spokesman of the US State Department made a shameful statement [that Israel is not violating the agreements by building new houses in the settlements]… It would have been better for the US administration to reprimand the Israeli government.

DR YUSUF RAZAQAH IN PALESTINIAN FILASTIN

If we add the US position to the Israeli conditions, we will conclude that the negotiations are going round in circles and that there is no benefit to direct or indirect negotiations. We would also conclude Obama's Washington is not ready to achieve a just resolution that addresses the minimum level of Palestinian demands. Based on this, we can conclude that Biden's visit to Tel Aviv is focussing on Iran rather than on the negotiations and the Palestinian cause.

HANI HABIB IN PALESTINIAN AL-AYYAM

Most probably, Biden's statements on the Palestinian-Israeli issue will not reveal anything new. I think his visit to the region is more focused on the Iranian issue. He wants to stress to Israel the need to consult Washington before taking any military step against Iran.



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