Pulling the wool over Obama's eyes UPDATE

Steven D at Booman Tribune recently took apart an interview with "the unrepentant right wing Israeli PM" Benajamin Netahyahu by CBS News Correspondent Jeff Glor.

Among the key excerpts in this interview was Netanyahu's discussion of the crux issue: freezing settlements (see the entire interview for other topics).

On Israeli settlements:

. . . I said-- yesterday that we would not build new settlements, that we won't expropriate additional land for the existing settlements. [...]

I think the question of-- not expanding the territory is different from the freezing [of settlements]. You know, you have children there. You have babies that are born. What do you do with them? You have to give them kindergartens. You have to give them schools. Can you build a classroom or not? Can you build a kindergarten or not? [...]

. . . I don't want to prejudge the final outcome, which will be determined in-- negotiations, which will determine-- the future of the territories, the future of-- of these communities. But we-- we really want to have people live normal lives until that final peace agreement is reached. Then we'll decide-- on-- on the rest.

Steven D remarks:

In other words, Netanyahu speaks with forked tongue. No new territory will be appropriated but he won't freeze settlements? What the hell does that mean? You tell me. I think it effectively signals, with a wink and a nod to the settlers, that they can go ahead with expanding and creating new settlements, and entrenching themselves further on Palestinian land they illegally expropriated, and he will simply call it creating more "living space" fpr existing settlements and their settlers. In short, he is telling Obama and the rest of us to "Go Cheney ourselves". It also signals to me that he is merely paying lip service to the idea of serious peace negotiations.

The most interesting and insightful comment to this diary, which concerned just what no expansion of settlements means, was provided by Diane from Lawrence of Cyberia:

I agree Netanyahu is signaling nothing new in this interview or in his recent speech; he's simply saying whatever he has to say to try to placate the Obama Administration, but he is signaling that nothing will change on the ground.

That quote on the settlements that you highlighted as being rather nonsensical is a good indicator that we are looking at the sameoldsameold policy. "We would not build new settlements, that we won't expropriate additional land for the existing settlements" is exactly the same logic Israeli govts have used to triple the number of settlers since Oslo, while all the time claiming they are committed to two states. The way it works is that they assure the world they won't build new settlements, but then they carry on building where they like while saying, "yes but this is just part of an existing settlement". For example, for a long time the Israeli govt defined new construction as being part of an existing settlement so long as it was visible from the existing settlement. Well, if you stand on the top of a hill in the West Bank, an awful lot of the Occupied Territories is visible! And according to the Israeli definition, it is legitimate to build on it, because the fact you can see it makes it not a new settlement. Another handy trick is to assign ridiculously large municipal boundaries to existing settlements, so that any building within those boundaries can be explained as construction within an existing settlement, no matter how many miles it is distant from what has already been built. A good example of this is the settlement of Ma'ale Adumim in the West Bank. It is one of those settlements that the NY Times describes as a "Jewish suburb of East Jerusalem". In other words, it's built up area is adjacent to Jerusalem in the western West Bank. But if you look at its theoretical boundaries, there is another 95% of "Ma'ale Adumim" that stretches east towards Jericho, essentially cutting the West Bank in half. And according to Netanyahu's definition, Israel can build anywhere in it but still won't be building a new settlement.

It is a shame that this late in the day, when we really need leaders to grasp the nettle, we are still hearing word games designed to let Israel go on doing what it has done for 40 yrs.  

So no new land acquisition and no settlement expansion means no land beyond the eyesight of the nearest settlement hill. That's a good one.

It's all the same-old word games and wool. The serious question for the US is this: will Obama give up his new dawn Middle East policy and begin the wink and nod of past presidents, or will there be real confrontation. Netanyahu is not a peacemaker; he is merely the propagator of the latest version of Israeli deception.

The entire Middle East has listened to peace rhetoric from Israel for decades now, only to watch Palestinian lands dwindle as the colonization proceeded unabated.

Will Obana blink? There are already indications that he is, but that's the topic of another diary.

UPDATE: U.S. could yield on settlement freeze, says government source

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093219.html

The U.S. administration is prepared to show flexibility on construction in West Bank settlements, a government source in Jerusalem says. The Americans will apparently not demand a full freeze on construction, but will agree that projects now underway can be completed, Israeli officials say.

(snip)

The breakthrough came during Mitchell's visit to Israel last week, when he held a four-hour meeting on the settlement issue with Netanyahu and his advisers. He also discussed the matter for an hour and a half with Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Mitchell said during the talks that at this stage the United States would not impose sanctions on Israel due to construction in the settlements. However, the U.S. would not be able to call on the Arab countries to make goodwill gestures to Israel unless Jerusalem moved to rein in construction.

Netanyahu and Barak told Mitchell that construction in the West Bank could not be totally halted because tenders had been issued and approved, construction had started and people had bought apartments.

Construction can't be halted because of tenders, over which the Israeli government has no control? And Mitchell/Obama is buying in? Just how many years will it take for these tenders to expire?

Give us break.

Tags: Israel, Netanyahu, obama, Palestine (all tags)

Comments

7 Comments

Re: Pulling the wool over Obama's eyes

Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, concurs: it's all a sham.

From a Haartez article today:

The incoming Israeli ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, said on Wednesday that he expected the ongoing dispute between the Israeli and American governments over West Bank settlement construction to be resolved soon.

"[U.S. President Barack] Obama welcomed [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu's policy speech, but the settlement question is still on the table," he told Israel Radio. "But there has been some progress made on that front over the past few days. Both parties have expressed their determined will to put an end to this bone of contention, and some novel ideas have been proposed."

(snip)

Oren said that Israel will not return to the 1967 borders, because they are indefensible.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1093 663.html

Not returning to the 67 borders is just another ruse that has nothing to do with defense, but everything to do with the colonization of "Judea and Samaria," openly announced by Menachum Begin back in the 70s. In concert with this ruse, Israel marched out old retired Israeli generals to claim, essentially, that the West Bank was needed for Israel's defense. And now we are hearing that old red herring returning for a second act.

Israel wants the West Bank. Apartheid is inevitable. And that is the problem Obama confronts: supporting an apartheid regime at the tune of six billion a year, while trying to mend fences with the Muslim and Arab world. Al Qaeda has nothing to worry about: its scapegoats will survive intact.

by MainStreet 2009-06-17 08:49AM | 0 recs
A few remarks from RIchard Silverstein.

Tikun Olam:

The other non-starter in Netanyahu's speech was his clinging to the notion of "natural growth" being permitted in the settlements. That, of course, leaves a hole big enough for a Mack truck to drive through. Since 1993 there has been a virtual settlement freeze throughout the West Bank and yet population has grown from 111,000 just after Oslo to nearly 300,000 now (and that's excluding Jerusalem which contains about another 100,000 over the Green line Jewish residents).

Netanyahu also laid down a marker for future negotiations in which he put the U.S. on notice that he would reject any demand for settlement withdrawals:

Israel would not accept any situation in which it was forced to exist beside a terrorist state. Every withdrawal from settlement territories would contribute to such terror, said Netanyahu.

http://www.richardsilverstein.com/tikun_ olam/

We can thank Bill Clinton for his acquiescence to the 90s settlement growth during the so-called Oslo period when two states became central to peace, but it was immediately squashed by the doubling of settlements and settlers permitted by Clinton without a word. At this stage, noting his defense of Netanyahu's speech as a great start, his voice is to be ignored.

by MainStreet 2009-06-17 10:40AM | 0 recs
Judea and Samaria

will live on thru the ages, be it in the form of a land swap, which has been proposed before, where Israel gets the border settlements, palestine gets some Arab neighborhoods. Or in the form it is now, because if the Arabs actually turn down the chance to at least work with Bibi, who now has assembled the strongest political coalition of voters and politicians for the two state deal, Judea and Samaria will be in its current status for some time. And no one wants that.

by Lakrosse 2009-06-17 10:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Judea and Samaria

No one wants that?  Wrong.  Many people want that.  Bibi foremost among them.

by Strummerson 2009-06-18 01:57AM | 0 recs
Re: Judea and Samaria

Historically, Judea and Samaria will always live on...just as the great Greek cities of Neopolis and Syracuse live on, as does the Roman protectorate Britania, as does the Caananite city of Nablus in the West Bank.

Unfortunately, history just does not move backwards.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 02:23AM | 0 recs
Re: Judea and Samaria

And PS: it is one thing to defame the Palestinians through lies and propaganda, but it is quite another to call them "Arabs." Only right wing Likudniks use such terminology.

Remember where you are. This is not the Islamophobic site, Little Green Footballs.

by MainStreet 2009-06-18 02:26AM | 0 recs
this is a pro-free speech pro-gay

pro-women site. And I'll bet you a hell of a lot of money Palestine will not be that kind of state, as Israel is. Thats why I support Israel: they value these things. Little Green Footballs and Palestine don't.

by Lakrosse 2009-06-18 10:50AM | 0 recs

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