So sorry! Very sorry! Very, very sorry! We apologize!

This will never happen again! The prime minister, cabinet members and senior bureaucrats repeated this over and over again last week in an attempt to set right what seemed to them to have been a major blunder, one they thought had spoiled what should have been a dramatic goodwill visit by the vice president of the United States, Joe Biden.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might have been humming "I'm just a soul whose intentions are good, Oh Lord, please don't let me be misunderstood," while he sat waiting for the arrival of Biden, who vented his anger over what he considered an insult by being deliberately late for dinner.

The government's critics in the media had a field day. According to them the decision by the Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee to approve plans for putting up additional houses in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood, just as Biden was arriving in the country, was ruining relations between the United States and Israel and causing irreparable damage to strategic cooperation between the two countries.

Listening to them, one might have thought that if some years from now historians try to determine why the U.S. administration did not take any effective action to prevent the Iranians from acquiring nuclear weapons, they will find that the responsibility lay on the shoulders of a minor Israeli civil servant who set the agenda of a local planning committee for that fateful day.