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Jerusalem - Israeli Rejection of Settlement Freeze: Trouble for Obama

Published on: June 1, 2009 08:44 AM
By:  Time
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Jerusalem - If President Barack Obama thought he could deliver the promise of a few Israeli concessions during his upcoming Cairo speech to the Muslim world, he was sorely mistaken.

Far more than his predecessor George W. Bush, Obama has been leaning hard on Israel to halt its expansion of Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territories and to declare its readiness to accept a “two-state solution,” meaning an Israeli and a Palestinian state living side by side. But the mood in Jerusalem is defensive. At a Sunday cabinet meeting, Israeli ministers openly defied the U.S. demands. Israeli Transport Minister Yisrael Katz told Army Radio, “I want to make it clear that the current Israeli government will not accept in any way the freezing of legal settlement activity in Judea and Samaria (The West Bank).”

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In response to Washington’s pressure, the rightwing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had thought it might earn a little breathing space with the Obama Administration by destroying a few illegal settlers’ outposts. But even that has gone badly. No sooner did the army bulldozers plow under a few hilltop outposts — usually nothing more than a few trailers and shacks built on private Palestinian land — then the settlers were back with renewed zeal, along with nails and concrete to re-build their smashed homes. As one settler, Ariyeh Davis told the Israeli Internet news agency Ynet, “Our answer is ‘expansion against expulsion’.” He added: “God willing, we’ll build new places, and from 300,000 residents in Judea and Samaria (the Biblical name for the West Bank), we’ll become 600,000.”

Obama’s Cairo speech is supposed to set a new course for U.S. policy in the turbulent Middle East; the key to its success is to promote the image that his Administration is taking a more even-handed approach to the Arab-Israeli conflict than did his predecessor. But this has not gone down well with Netanyahu’s hawkish cabinet, which is grumbling in the Israeli press that Obama has gone too far the other way, supposedly granting concessions to Palestinians that are “unfair” to Israelis. The Israeli press made much of the fact that Obama’s meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Washington last week seemed much more cordial than his strained encounter earlier with Netanyahu. A cartoon in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth showed Obama and Abbas laughing chummily while throwing darts at Netanyahu’s portrait.

At the core of the dispute between the two allies is Washington’s insistence that Israel honor its past accords and halt all construction within the West Bank settlements, whose expansion is seen as an obstacle to peace. The Palestinians say that the settlements, with their road networks and military security cordons, are chopping and dicing the territory into so many pieces that its own state could never be viable.

The Israelis want Washington to permit the “natural growth” of the settlements — i.e., allow the children of existing settlers to build new homes — which U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton says she opposes. The Israelis also argue that while sacrifices are being asked of them, little is being demanded of the Palestinians. President Abbas, who, according to aides, came away from Washington convinced of “Obama’s seriousness” in pushing Israel to remove settlements, says he refuses to hold peace talks with Netanyahu until he publicly backs the two-state solution, something the premier has been loathe to do.

Meantime, the Palestinian leader is trying rather blatantly to show Washington that while he may have lost Gaza to the Islamic militants Hamas, his security forces are still capable of policing the West Bank. On Sunday, Abbas’ forces raided a Hamas stronghold in the West Bank town of Qalqilya; six were killed in the resulting clash. This may be a way for Abbas to prove to Obama that he’s fulfilling his security promises, but the shoot-out could wreck ongoing talks in Egypt between him and Hamas over forming a unity government that would bring the West Bank and Gaza under a single Palestinian leadership. As a Hamas official in Gaza told TIME: “All this proves is that Abbas is carrying out the bidding of our enemy Israel.”

For now, all Abbas has to do is sit quietly while Netanyahu takes the heat from Washington — and from his own fractious coalition partners. The cabinet right-wingers want Netanyahu to stand firm against Obama’s demands to halt the settlements, while Labor, in the words of Knesset Member Ophir Pines, wants Netanyahu to face his “moment of truth.” Says Labor’s Pines, “The government needs to decide whether it prefers good relations with the American administration or whether it prefers the illegal settlement in the territories. All of the talk about natural growth in the settlements is a bluff, and the Americans know that,” said Pines. Obama may just call Netanyahu’s bluff, which will undoubtedly complicate the friendship between the U.S. and its closest Middle Eastern partner. But the chances of reviving peace talks between Israelis and Arabs will be the better for it.


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Read Comments (26)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jun 01, 2009 at 08:07 AM Anonymous Says:

If Obama doesn't get an absolute settlement freeze with NO exceptions from EY, he will have no credibility to move forward with the Arabs on negotiations towards a two state final settlement. While that may please the Isreali hardliners, it will poison the relationship with the U.S. and complicate any cooperation on Iran nuclear issues etc. With this president, there will be a price to pay for EY's failure to stop the settlements.

2

 Jun 01, 2009 at 08:01 AM Avrohom Abba Says:

Mr. Obama does not care if Israel refuses to bow down to his pressure. He only cares that the Moslem world should see that he tried to help continue their policy of threats and intimidation.
Additionally, this give Mr. Obama a new chance to parade his half Israeli Chief of Staff around. Poor Rahm Emanuel is just a puppet with a nice title. He was hired to give the impression that Mr. Obama is open minded. However, this new "Chief of Staff" is has the power to file his nails and make speeches. He is only a show piece for the Obama administration.
The true aim of the Obama administration is to follow the desires of Rashid Khalidi and that type of Palestinian supporter who admires the "bravery" of terrorists. Let'snot forget that Mr. and Mrs. Obama not only sat next to the Khalidis at a dinner honoring Lopuis Farakhan, but also, the Khalidis used to babysit the Obama girls.
Yes, Mr. Rohm Emanuel had better wake up and realize that he is only a centerpiece attraction who does nothing of importance while he holds a very prestigious title. Sooner or later, the man will awaken and quit instead of allowing his career to stagnate and rot.

3

 Jun 01, 2009 at 08:00 AM Anonymous Says:

to bad

4

 Jun 01, 2009 at 07:55 AM Anonymous Says:

go Bibi dont listen to obama he'll ruin your country like he did to our great country, and with GM.

5

 Jun 01, 2009 at 09:20 AM Yisroel S Says:

Are we more worried about how the Americans view us or about the deaths (G-d forbid, it should not come to pass) of Jews that comes about through concessions to our enemies as has been unfortunately proven time and time again. What do you think Mr Pines's comments do to the enemy. It gives them an extra push to be more brazen in their attacks.

6

 Jun 01, 2009 at 09:00 AM Anonymous Says:

first its not settlements its jewish land being wrked by jewish people.second they r not palestains they r arabs. israel shouldn't give another inch bak to the arabs and the u.s. should b the last to speak on the suvject. in a jesture of peace mr.obama should give texas bak to the mexicans

7

 Jun 01, 2009 at 08:59 AM berel Says:

#1 dont be an idiot, israel is paying plenty for its policy of appeasment the last 20 years ,its onltybecause of its defensive measures that these terrorists atrocities subsided, and you ,#1, can go back and bury your head in the sand. are you by any chance an israeli lefty?

8

 Jun 01, 2009 at 08:39 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

If Obama doesn't get an absolute settlement freeze with NO exceptions from EY, he will have no credibility to move forward with the Arabs on negotiations towards a two state final settlement. While that may please the Isreali hardliners, it will poison the relationship with the U.S. and complicate any cooperation on Iran nuclear issues etc. With this president, there will be a price to pay for EY's failure to stop the settlements.

why dont you understand that there is no way to please the arabs, and no way to please obama who is a muslim at heart.

9

 Jun 01, 2009 at 08:28 AM Truth Be Told Says:

Reply to #2:

Court Jews like Rahm Emanuel, who the Muslim illegal alien Obama uses as attack dogs against the Jews, is worse than the Judenrat leaders during the Holocaust. European Judenrat could claim they were trying forced to cooperate with the Nazis or else they would have been killed. The Rahm Emanual Judenrat volunteer to serve their Islamic master Obama in his quest to eliminate Israel and appease his Islamo-nazi allies.

10

 Jun 01, 2009 at 09:53 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

If Obama doesn't get an absolute settlement freeze with NO exceptions from EY, he will have no credibility to move forward with the Arabs on negotiations towards a two state final settlement. While that may please the Isreali hardliners, it will poison the relationship with the U.S. and complicate any cooperation on Iran nuclear issues etc. With this president, there will be a price to pay for EY's failure to stop the settlements.

What is the point in preserving an Israel that has become a dhimmi state which restricts where Jews can live? A "two state final settlement" is a "final solution", ch"v.

11

 Jun 01, 2009 at 09:50 AM elchonon Says:

#1,
Actually my house is being point ilegally in eretz yisrael on jewish owned land near chevron.

The Ra"n and other poskim hold that there's no dina demalchuta dina in eretz yisrael unless malchus beis david with sanhedrin

12

 Jun 01, 2009 at 09:57 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

If Obama doesn't get an absolute settlement freeze with NO exceptions from EY, he will have no credibility to move forward with the Arabs on negotiations towards a two state final settlement. While that may please the Isreali hardliners, it will poison the relationship with the U.S. and complicate any cooperation on Iran nuclear issues etc. With this president, there will be a price to pay for EY's failure to stop the settlements.

"built on private Palestinian land"

This is a blatant lie. Not a single Jewish town, village, or settlement in Yehuda or Shomron is built on land owned by Arabs, without their permission. They are all on land that is either owned by Jews or the state, or was hefker (i.e. "state land").

13

 Jun 01, 2009 at 09:56 AM Charles Hall Says:

We have no business squatting on land that is not owned by us. The early Zionists bought the land fare and square, following a tradition started by Avraham Avinu. We don't steal non-Jewish land within the Green Line; why are Judea and Samaria any different?

And you would not believe the damage that such theft does to Israel's standing in the world. It makes Israel look like a lawless, oppressive society.

14

 Jun 01, 2009 at 10:52 AM Proud yishuvnik Says:

Reply to #13  
Charles Hall Says:

We have no business squatting on land that is not owned by us. The early Zionists bought the land fare and square, following a tradition started by Avraham Avinu. We don't steal non-Jewish land within the Green Line; why are Judea and Samaria any different?

And you would not believe the damage that such theft does to Israel's standing in the world. It makes Israel look like a lawless, oppressive society.

sorry to break it to you but the places that WE bought are not all in our possession...Chevron and Schem for example...we bought those FAIR (not spelled fare) and square and now the arabs are spitting on the graves of our fathers...

and everything within the green line is pretty much all jewish anyway, so there is not much to steal that is not occupied by someone already...the land in yehuda v'shomron is open land waiting to be used...

Israel will always be criticized as being oppressive...and you're not helping your Jewish brothers by sitting in New York and criticizing them while they are hard at work building Eretz Yisrael.

16

 Jun 01, 2009 at 11:30 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #13  
Charles Hall Says:

We have no business squatting on land that is not owned by us. The early Zionists bought the land fare and square, following a tradition started by Avraham Avinu. We don't steal non-Jewish land within the Green Line; why are Judea and Samaria any different?

And you would not believe the damage that such theft does to Israel's standing in the world. It makes Israel look like a lawless, oppressive society.

Not owned by us? All of EY is owned by us. Who is stealing land? Where is there a single Arab with title to land that Jews have stolen? If such a thing happened, don't you suppose he would go straight to court and get an order to repossess it? It's not as if the courts are biased against the Arabs; on the contrary, they are very biased against the Jews, and yet no such case exists.

17

 Jun 01, 2009 at 12:22 PM Hate em Tatem Says:

More proof of Israel's lack of independence. That is why I did not attend the Israeli day parade yesterday. If I want to celebrate the state of Israel, I will go to a 4th of July parade.

#14 and his friend #15, does the same thing apply to Eilat, which was taken from the Arabs in the battle of Um-rash-rash? Eilat is not part of EY so how would that work?

18

 Jun 01, 2009 at 01:18 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #17  
Hate em Tatem Says:

More proof of Israel's lack of independence. That is why I did not attend the Israeli day parade yesterday. If I want to celebrate the state of Israel, I will go to a 4th of July parade.

#14 and his friend #15, does the same thing apply to Eilat, which was taken from the Arabs in the battle of Um-rash-rash? Eilat is not part of EY so how would that work?

Shoftim 11:24. They tried to destroy us, they lost, end of story. Why are we less entitled to Elat than Shlomo Hamelech was? When Poland gives Silesia and East Prussia back to Germany, then come and talk about Israel giving away Elat.

19

 Jun 01, 2009 at 01:52 PM BB Says:

The article refers to Netanyahu's government as "Right Wing". I don't know where this article was taken from however why isn't the current administration in Washington referred to (rightfully so) as LEFT WING????

20

 Jun 01, 2009 at 02:26 PM Hate em Tatem Says:

Reply to #18  
Milhouse Says:

Shoftim 11:24. They tried to destroy us, they lost, end of story. Why are we less entitled to Elat than Shlomo Hamelech was? When Poland gives Silesia and East Prussia back to Germany, then come and talk about Israel giving away Elat.

The battle of Um-rash-rash was an offensive war, not a defensive war. Please be historically correct before commenting. Also see the gemara yevamos 6b and rishonim. What is the connection to Shoftim?

21

 Jun 01, 2009 at 03:14 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #20  
Hate em Tatem Says:

The battle of Um-rash-rash was an offensive war, not a defensive war. Please be historically correct before commenting. Also see the gemara yevamos 6b and rishonim. What is the connection to Shoftim?

1. What battle? There was no battle there at all.
2. If there had been a battle, it would have been part of the war, which consisted of the Jews defending themselves against Hitler's allies trying to finish his job.
3. Did you read the posuk? Who do you think put that whole region in Israeli hands, without even the need to fire a single bullet?

22

 Jun 01, 2009 at 03:27 PM Anonymous Says:

Maybe we should start advising Obama about who Texas really belongs to? or who Caliofornia really belongs to and where thje borders of California are? If you are going to bother EY you better start at home!!!!

23

 Jun 01, 2009 at 05:29 PM leah Says:

Maybe if you start giving the U.S. billions in aid every year, they will.

24

 Jun 01, 2009 at 07:10 PM ZR Says:

Reply to #17  
Hate em Tatem Says:

More proof of Israel's lack of independence. That is why I did not attend the Israeli day parade yesterday. If I want to celebrate the state of Israel, I will go to a 4th of July parade.

#14 and his friend #15, does the same thing apply to Eilat, which was taken from the Arabs in the battle of Um-rash-rash? Eilat is not part of EY so how would that work?

וְשַׁתִּי אֶת-גְּבֻלְךָ, מִיַּם-סוּף וְעַד-יָם פְּלִשְׁתִּים, וּמִמִּדְבָּר, עַד-הַנָּהָר

It IS within the borders as described in Shemos (Exodus) 23:31. "I shall set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines"

The "Yam Suf" can only be Gulf of Aqaba (not Gulf of Suez) as Rashbam explains the "Yam Suf" is on the beggining of the EASTERN side of EY.

25

 Jun 01, 2009 at 10:18 PM Hate em Tatem Says:

Reply to #24  
ZR Says:

וְשַׁתִּי אֶת-גְּבֻלְךָ, מִיַּם-סוּף וְעַד-יָם פְּלִשְׁתִּים, וּמִמִּדְבָּר, עַד-הַנָּהָר

It IS within the borders as described in Shemos (Exodus) 23:31. "I shall set your border from the Red Sea to the Sea of the Philistines"

The "Yam Suf" can only be Gulf of Aqaba (not Gulf of Suez) as Rashbam explains the "Yam Suf" is on the beggining of the EASTERN side of EY.

Your am ha'aretzus on the sugyah does not deserve a reply.

26

 Jun 01, 2009 at 11:39 PM ZR Says:

Reply to #25  
Hate em Tatem Says:

Your am ha'aretzus on the sugyah does not deserve a reply.

The borders of EY are mentioned 4 times in Tanach. Each time differently. Elat IS included in the boundaries of Shemos 23:31.

27

 Jun 02, 2009 at 02:41 AM ZR Says:

Reply to #25  
Hate em Tatem Says:

Your am ha'aretzus on the sugyah does not deserve a reply.

The borders of EY are mentioned 4 (main) places in Tanach. Each time differently.

1. Bereshis 15:18-21
2. Shemos 23:31
3. Bamidbar 34:1-15
4. Yechezkal 47:13-20

Elat IS included in the boundaries of Shemos 23:31. And probably in the boundary of Bereshis 15:18-21.

We’re not talking about mitzvos tluyos bo'oretz. (See Rashi Bamidbar 34:2).

28

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