Some pro-Israel bloggers are busy hyping the news (read = easily fooled) that Obama “gets it”, because he now criticises the Palestinians. You know, telling them that they have to stop with all that hate-speech (anti-semitism) and anti-Israel sentiment. In reality, Obama is only showing how bewilderingly stupid his administration’s policies are concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict in general, and bound to fail.
Barry Rubin ponders over Obama’s focus on Israel’s settlement expansion, explaining just show how foolish and short sighted the US administration is in making a big fuss about something that: ” Israel is not being offered anything for making such a concession on a policy held by the last six prime ministers.”
Israel does not start new settlements. The issue is a narrower one: adding a building or even rooms or floors onto buildings in existing settlements. A second potential issue is over construction in the east Jerusalem area.
So far, there is a consensus in Israel that the same policy as has been held since 1993 should continue: no new settlements but construction on existing settlements.
From the administration’s standpoint, making this the big push doesn’t make sense and is likely to lead to looking foolish in the future no matter how it comes out.
First, if Israel refuses, is the United States going to apply disproportionate diplomatic force on the issue? Will huge threats or actions be deployed to make a small change?
Second, there is no implication of an enforced reciprocity. That is, Israel is not being offered anything for making such a concession on a policy held by the last six prime ministers. The United States, for example, urged the Palestinian Authority (PA) to stop incitement for murdering Israelis in its media and other institutions but there was no statement that this was a high priority or that the United States would punish the PA for not doing so.
How, then, will the United States get Israel to take steps of much greater importance it will want in future if a lot of political capital is used up on this one?
If the United States fails to force a change in Israeli policy it will look foolish. But what if it succeeds? The PA will just move to the next item on its list: refusing to negotiate with Israel unless Netanyahu explicitly endorses a “two-state” solution.
And the PA will do or give nothing in exchange for a cessation of Israeli settlement construction. Neither will the Arab states. They will not help it more on the Iran issue or meet any other U.S. request.
More here. KGS