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Bibi Netanyahu Agrees to Push His Cabinet for a Partial Moratorium on Some Settlement Construction for 90 Days

November 14, 2010

When all we have in our toolbox when it comes to Israel is carrots, I guess this result is to be expected and better than nothing.

I certainly appreciate Secretary Clinton’s hard work. I just wish Israel would stop making this administration crawl over cut glass to do very basic things to ensure it’s own long term security.

From the NYT:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to push his cabinet to freeze most construction on settlements in the West Bank for 90 days to break an impasse in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, an official briefed on talks between the United States and Israel said Saturday evening.

In return, the Obama administration has offered Israel a package of security incentives and fighter jets worth $3 billion that would be contingent on the signing of a peace agreement, the official said. The United States would also block any moves in the United Nations Security Council that would try to shape a final peace agreement.

The quid pro quo was hashed out by Mr. Netanyahu and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in seven and a half hours of talks in New York on Thursday.

The partial freeze would not include East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians view as the future capital of a Palestinian state and where recent Israeli building set off a firestorm of criticism.

It was unclear whether the prime minister could win approval for the United States deal from his cabinet, which has been reluctant to freeze settlement construction. It was also unclear if the leaks of the details of the agreement, which were widely reported in Israeli newspapers on Saturday, were designed to put pressure on Mr. Netanyahu.


This proposed 90-day freeze would be nonrenewable: the United States would not ask for further extensions, the official with knowledge of the deliberations said.

The freeze would apply not only to new construction, but to building that began after the 10-month moratorium expired in September, the official said. That is a particularly delicate stipulation, given the large number of houses that have begun being built since then. The ban would apply to residential building; public structures like schools and community centers would be unaffected. [emphasis added]

That is quite a high cost for a partial freeze in some settlements not including East Jerusalem- the real sticking point with the Palestinians since they want that as their capital. I also don’t think it includes construction for “natural growth” but I could be wrong. Keep in mind that this is on top of the billions we are already giving Israel. The US taxpayer will be paying a little over $33 million a day to get Netanyahu to partially do what he should be doing under international law anyway. Of course, this isn’t a done deal yet because it hasn’t been approved by Israel’s Cabinet. I do hope that all of this is contingent upon the signing of a peace deal, as the NYT article indicates above.

I know I sound negative but I am just sort of fed up with Israel’s attitude at this stage. Secretary Clinton has said many times that the US can’t want peace more than the parties do and with Netanyahu, that seems to be the case. I am tired of hearing about how his hands are tied because he has to appease his far-right wing coalition- he CHOSE that coalition specifically because they were far-right wing hardliners on Mideast peace and other issues. I’m also unclear how Israel can continue to plan 50,000 new housing units in Jerusalem (many in Arab areas) and expect to come up with some sort of peace agreement. There is a point where actions are more important than words and Israel’s actions do not = peace.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. Thain permalink
    November 14, 2010 1:55 pm

    I too am very appreciative of Secretary Clinton’s hard work but I also agree that it’s frustrating to watch Bibi make she and the Obama admin as you said “crawl over cut glass.” Hillary has been a tireless advocate for Israel for years and she deserves more respect from Israeli leaders than this. Israel is making it sound like this is some big huge favor for the US, when it’s actually us doing them a big huge favor and trying to ensure their long term security, blah, blah, blah. Even the vehemently pro-Israel NYT said as much this weekend.

    If Bibi can’t get this through his cabinet then I think the admin. should step back and tell Israel they can call us when they’re ready to be adults about this. Of course we won’t do that.

    Isn’t the special relationship a two-way street? Doesn’t friendship go two ways?

    Any hour now we are going to see statements released from the offices of members of Congress, AIPAC, the ADL etc. applauding Israel for making such difficult concessions. You watch, it’s coming.

    According to haaretz the problem is E. Jerusalem- that Abbas may not have support for further negotiations if Israel continues to gobble up what is supposed to be their capitol.

  2. discourseincsharpminor permalink
    November 14, 2010 2:52 pm

    90 days to make peace? Seriously? Why not ask for the moon dipped in chocolate and sprinkles as well. While I too am appreciative of her work, I think Secretary Clinton just spent seven and a half hours begging only to be rewarded with an all but useless, nonrenewable freeze to some of the settlement building in exchange for more military hardware and, I’ll wager, more goodies we don’t know about yet.

    If we weren’t so afraid of having our own citizens call our country anti-Semitic for daring to question Israel’s position, and were willing to take a firmer stance, I don’t think we’d be pleading for hours for such meager results and we might be closer to a solid peace agreement rather than at the verge of watching this latest one implode.

  3. November 14, 2010 2:57 pm

    Discourse said:

    Why not ask for the moon dipped in chocolate and sprinkles as well.

    Don’t forget free ponies!

    It’s all about the ponies.

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      November 14, 2010 11:24 pm

      Yay, ponies!

  4. November 14, 2010 2:58 pm

    Oh, btw, I am starting my search for photos for the photo bomb now so it probably won’t be up until early evening, so check back if you are interested.

  5. November 14, 2010 3:07 pm

    Whatever happens, and of course I hope for peace, you can’t say Hillary and company haven’t given this a herculean effort.

    • November 14, 2010 3:13 pm

      204- no, she has really worked her ass off and I think most reasonable people realize that she is totally invested in working out a solution to this conflict. In fact, in many ways she seems more invested that Obama does at least in terms of rolling up sleeves and working day in and day out for progress.

      I really wanted to be more positive about negotiations this time around, in part because I really believe that if anyone can move this forward, Hillary can- while some have been critical of her positions on Israel prior to becoming SOS (and at times I have been), there is no doubt it lends her a certain credibility when working with Israel. That said, it’s important to always remember that there are two sides to this coin and there is quite an uneven balance of power- Israel holds most of the cards and they really don’t need the US to act as their protector and advocate in these negotiations- that’s part of what happened last time around. What is needed, in my opinion, is a mediator and an objective one at that.

      • Thain permalink
        November 14, 2010 3:53 pm

        Thain- woo hoo, photo bomb!

        Be back later!

  6. November 14, 2010 3:57 pm

    This may be a silly question, but I wonder what the motivating reason is behind the Administration’s desperation to make an offer like this for a 90 day partial freeze. I realize that our backing of Israel to the nth degree is a major factor that helps terrorist organizations recruit new people and that our soldiers in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan are less safe because of our blind support of Israel. Bill Clinton said this publicly while traveling internationally before the election.

    So if national security is the reason for this, does the Administration really think that bending over so far backwards, while our own economy is in a shambles, is going to show the world how tough and fairminded we are with Israel? And if we capitulate like this now, what on earth is Obama planning to offer Israel to try to get them to resolve final status issues?

  7. Daniel permalink
    November 14, 2010 5:45 pm

    Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have shown that they are no friend of Israel. I always knew Hillary was just pandering to us Jews when she ran for the Senate in NY. Remember her kissing Arafat’s wife as FLOTUS- we knew then where her sympathies were.

    Finally Jews are waking up to the fact that the Democrats are no friend of Israel. It’s about time. I used to be a Democrat but they are weak on national security and always try to force Israel to do things. Israel is a sovereign nation!

    See you in 2012, the joke is on you liberals!

    • discourseincsharpminor permalink
      November 14, 2010 11:23 pm

      Exactly. Israel is a sovereign nation. The US is capable of having an egalitarian and mature relationship with other sovereign, friendly nations – Britain leaps to mind – without feeling the need to pander to them and placate them and be incapable of voice any sort of disagreement on any issue. So tell me, why do we do absolutely anything – no matter how absurd – as long as Israel benefits? Is it because the US spoils them or has Israel been bullying us? I can’t really tell.

  8. Daniel permalink
    November 14, 2010 5:46 pm

    Hillary Clinton = political opportunist.

    Thank G-d she never will be president.

    • HillaryFan permalink
      November 14, 2010 5:56 pm

      Daniel = CDS

    • filipino-american4hrc permalink
      November 14, 2010 10:29 pm

      Are you Eric Cantor?

      Frankly, there should be a law in the US that says all SITTING Senators and Congressmen who PUBLICLY AND LOUDLY undermine the President’s foreign policy in EXPLICIT favor of another country — just like what Cantor did and said in relation to his meeting with Netanyahu — should be tried for treason!

      To Daniel and all the rightwing Israel supporters — go ahead with your foolishness and don’t be surprised that 5 years down the road, many people will be saying the Jews deserved the Holocaust! I’m sorry this sounds hateful — and I don’t believe it myself — but hate begets hate. The fact that more and more Americans DO NOT WANT a war with Iran should it attack Israel tells you that public opinion towards Israel is changing. Couple that with emboldening the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah (never mind Ahmadinejad — I don’t think the ideologically sophisticated Islamic fundamentalists take him seriously) and others that don’t recognize Israel’s right to existence, you will end up with a never-ending confrontation that may eventually result in Israel and peace-loving Jews being left with the short end of the rope. And there is nothing the US will be able to do to halt this — regardless of Cantor, Lieberman, McCain, Berman, Schumer, AIPAC, ADL etc. — because any effort can only come at the price of American blood. Do you think the US can do a repeat of what it did in the 1967 war? I don’t think so.

  9. Thain permalink
    November 15, 2010 1:18 pm

    Look at how the American Jewish community treats one of its own when they are afraid of the message:

    These are the people the ADL and AIPAC and even the US government are trying to smear? Nonviolent activists? Great message. Really.

    • November 15, 2010 2:01 pm

      Thanks for the link Thain. I wasn’t aware of Joseph Dana but I just read that post and he’s pretty incredible. I think more and more people like Joseph will succeed in changing the dialogue- ultimately, this change is going to have to occur in the Jewish community. I left a comment over on his site and will add him to my blog roll.

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