Netanyahu’s Produces US Call for 1967 Borders
[Middle East News Service comments: Binyamin Netanyahu announced a settlement freeze, but with a “few” exemptions. Buildings which have started will continue. There is a special dispensation for the 900 units that were recently announced , public buildings are exempt (the West bank is apparently urgently short of 28 synagogues and schools!) and East Jerusalem, which only Israel considered not to be part of the West Bank, does not even get a run. Netanyahu reminds me off a school principle who announces a suspension of corporal punishment, with just a few caveats: outstanding penalties will continue, teachers are still permitted to hit groups of students together and hitting students on the head is exempted! There won’t be too many accolades for such a principle and Netanyahu does not deserve praise for his move either.
There’s a fair amount of good material on this matter already around. Jason Koutsoukis is sceptical in the SMH/Age, going through some of the fact and figures, not to mention recent history. Haaretz’s Akiva Eldar argues why 'Settlement freeze' won't bring about peace. Probably the most cynical is former Meretz leader Yossi Sarid simply doesn’t believe:
Do not view me as someone who has difficulty believing. A person is not born suspicious; his experience and memory teach him suspicion. His credo instructs him not to believe...A long while ago, they promised that they "would not expropriate more lands." The expropriations stopped because there was no need for them - about 1.6 million dunams, [1600 sq km] approximately one-third of the West Bank, are today state lands. Land reserves of this kind will suffice for 100 years of settlement - they are more than enough.
And a long while ago they promised to "evacuate unauthorized outposts." From their lips we hear evacuate, evacuate, but in the field it is beef up and increase, and provide support behind their backs. Some 100 outposts of this kind sprouted like mushrooms after the rain of official commitments, made both orally and in writing.
However, the best analysis of the implications of this freeze has come from Daniel Levy who looks at the way Netanyahu’s tricks appear to have hardened US attitudes in a way missed by most commentators. An interesting observation – Sol Salbe.]
Netanyahu’s Stubbornness on Settlements Produces American Call for 1967 Bordersby Daniel Levy ,
Israeli PM Netanyahu announced today his cabinet’s decision, “To suspend new construction in Judea and Samaria.” (Yes, they still call it Judea and Samaria). The Obama Administration responded within hours with a statement released by Secretary Clinton followed by a press briefing from Special Envoy George Mitchell.
On the face of it, this was a step forward by the Israeli government, acknowledged and welcomed (though not blessed) by the US government, and a move that one hopes will facilitate Palestinian agreement to resume negotiations. But if one digs just a little bit deeper, it becomes very evident that it was nothing of the sort. Rather, today’s events closed the first chapter in a game of dare being played out between the new leaderships in Washington and Jerusalem.
Today’s statements appeared to be part of an elaborate and ongoing dance of suspicion between the two supposed allies. During his first term as prime minister in the late 90’s, Benjamin Netanyahu made an enemy of then US President Clinton and played the Republican congress against the Democrat president. This directly led to the collapse of Netanyahu’s government and his fall from office. Judging by today, Netanyahu is keen for a repeat performance albeit under circumstances even less propitious for him politically. The response of the Obama team might be an interesting pointer as to where things might be headed on the peace front.
see the full story: http://www.prospectsforpeace.com/2009/11/netanyahus_stubbornness_on_set.html
[The independent Middle East News Service concentrates on providing alternative information chiefly from Israeli sources. It is sponsored by the Australian Jewish Democratic Society. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the AJDS. These are expressed in its own statements]