Israel’s offer to restrain settlement expansion is an unprecedented and positive step but still falls short of Washington’s wishes, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Monday.
“The Israelis have responded to the call of the U.S., the Palestinians and the Arab world to stop settlement activity by expressing a willingness to restrain settlement activity,” she told reporters in the Moroccan city of Marrakesh.
“This offer falls far short of what our preference would be but if it is acted upon it will be an unprecedented restriction on settlements and would have a significant and meaningful effect on restraining their growth.” [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — Now as always, the substance of US-Israeli relations is a process through which agreements can be found on language.
Israel seeks and promotes the “right” language and it vigorous fights against the “wrong” language.
Meanwhile Israel will do whatever it chooses. It’s only concern with its American friends is that they have the good manners to talk about Israel’s actions in a favorable way. Thousands of housings units will continue to be built on occupied Palestinian territory but even as this is happening, Israel will be lauded for its “restraint.”
Benjamin Netanyahu is no doubt now glowing with satisfaction as his erstwhile harsh teacher, an administration that only a few months ago admonished the Israeli leader for not doing his “homework” on halting settlement growth, has now become an obedient and loving student.
Like Israel’s government, Israel’s public never tires of proclaiming to pollsters its aspiration for peace and its support of a two-state solution. What the polls do not report is that this support depends on Israel defining the terms of that peace, its territorial dimensions, and the constraints to be placed on the sovereignty of a Palestinian state.
An American president who addresses the Arab world and promises a fair and evenhanded approach to peacemaking is immediately seen by Israelis as anti-Israel. The head of one of America’s leading Jewish organizations objected to the appointment of Senator Mitchell as President Obama’s peace envoy because, he said, his objectivity and evenhandedness disqualified him for this assignment.
The Israeli reaction to serious peacemaking efforts is nothing less than pathological — the consequence of an inability to adjust to the Jewish people’s reentry into history with a state of their own following 2,000 years of powerlessness and victimhood.
Former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, whose assassination by a Jewish right-wing extremist is being remembered this week in Israel, told Israelis at his inauguration in 1992 that their country is militarily powerful, and neither friendless nor at risk. They should therefore stop thinking and acting like victims.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s message that the whole world is against Israel and that Israelis are at risk of another Holocaust — a fear he invoked repeatedly during his address in September at the United Nations General Assembly in order to discredit Judge Richard Goldstone’s Gaza fact-finding report — is unfortunately still a more comforting message for too many Israelis. [continued…]
Palestinian officials on Sunday criticized the United States for what one called “backpedaling” on demands that Israel stop settlement construction in the occupied West Bank, saying the Obama administration’s change of approach on the issue damaged the likelihood of a peace agreement.
“If America cannot get Israel to implement a settlement freeze, what chance do the Palestinians have of reaching agreement” on the even more complex set of issues involved in final peace talks, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a written statement.
“We are at a critical moment,” Erekat said. “The way forward, however, is not to drop the demand for Israel to comply with its obligations.” [continued…]
Editor’s Comment — This is how the narrative has been twisted:
Although Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu rebuffed the initial U.S. demand, he also offered alternatives that, while short of what the Palestinians wanted, were still characterized by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over the weekend as “unprecedented” concessions made in hopes of helping direct talks resume.
Netanyahu has shown flexibility and the Palestinians are being intransigent. No suggestion that the Palestinians’ mistake was simply to believe that President Obama was a man of his word.
Marwan Barghouti instead of Mahmoud Abbas? The associates of the senior Fatah leader jailed in Israel are examining the possibility that he will announce his candidacy for president should elections be held as planned and should the current president surprisingly decide not to run again for the post.
Recently, following the dead end reached in the peace talks, officials close to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reported that the Abbas is exhausted. However, Abbas has not threatened to resign, though his associates say that the option cannot be ruled out that he will not run in the upcoming presidential elections.
“True the president is exhausted; true he is not satisfied with the situation; and true he prefers not to contend, but, as of now, and I say this with confirmed information, the president will be the Fatah candidate in the elections. The question is whether the elections will be held,” said a senior Fatah source to Ynet. [continued…]
Leaders of Jordan and Egypt on Sunday warned that Israel’s unilateral actions in East Jerusalem and other Arab areas were “derailing” efforts aimed at resuming peace negotiations with the Palestinians, and would thereby have a “catastrophic” effect on the region.
The remarks came in a joint communique issued at the end of a whirlwind visit to Cairo by Jordan’s King Abdullah II where he held talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, according to Jordan’s official Petra news agency.
The two leaders discussed the “catastrophic consequences on the region’s stability and security resulting from the failure to seize the current opportunity for making peace,” the statement said.] [continued…]