One big problem with democracy — in most of its forms — is that leaders can be tempted to put their own re-election above the state’s civic and diplomatic interests. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision-making in recent days may be one of the finest examples of the phenomenon.

Every Israeli government for the past decade has deferred to international diplomatic pressure not to advance construction in the “E-1” zone outside Jerusalem. Every Israeli prime minister since Ariel Sharon knew that such a move would cause a diplomatic uproar, and for good reason.

One of the foundations of the Oslo Peace Process, the Clinton Parameters and the Road Map for Peace, all of which have long passed their expiry date, is that East Jerusalem will in some form or another become the capital of Palestine. But that becomes all-the-more impossible if Israel builds new settlements in E-1, further sealing Palestinian East Jerusalem and cutting it off from the rest of the West Bank. Construction in E-1 would (more…)