President Obama is being more explicit and forthright with Israel than any U.S. president in decades. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it the other day:
“He wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not ‘natural growth’ exceptions. We think it is in the best interests [of the peace process] that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly. … And we intend to press that point.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for the moment at least, is rejecting that pressure, setting up an interesting test of strength and will. Obama and Netanyahu will both pay a political cost at home for their positions, and given the clear line Obama has drawn, one of the two will be forced to give in. If Obama prevails, as I suspect he will, he will then have earned credibility to force similar concessions from the Arab/Palestinian side.
I’m still far from optimistic, but we’ll see. At the very least Obama is trying to shake both sides out of the status quo.
In the meantime, I’ve pulled some responses to the standoff as posted in the comments section of Haaretz, an Israeli English-language newspaper.
Israel should rebuff this preposterous American intervention. The so-called West Bank`s status – and this land is patently part of the original Jewish homeland, where Jews have actually lived for many centuries long before any Arabs ever arrived there – is actually in the present that of land won fairly by Israel in war. To suggest that Jews cannot build there wherever they choose to do so – and they are certainly not going to stop having babies! – is blatant anti-Jewish apartheid.
Doesn`t the US know that these settlers don`t need permission from anyone? For crying out loud! This particular group of settlers are not like other settlers. These settlers are special. S-P-E-C-I-A-L! Get it? They get permission directly from…you know, some really big-time Enchillada, who said, way back when, that they could just, you know, take any stuff they want, you know, whenever they feel like it. So just shut up about it.
(E)rin go Brah! Israel go Brah! Go Israel! Do not retreat one inch, move more settlements into the WB which rightly was given to you by the League of nations and illegaly taken away by Britain before WW 2. Regardless of then. now you are there. hold the land. Hold it or you will be reduced to a state worse than the Indian reservations in the US. The arabs have multi millions of acres to settle their countryme(n). the US government has never solved any problems between nations unless it physically conquered and occupied, or bombed the poor state into oblivion. That will never happen to Israel. Just call the US bluff and persevere. It will huff and puff itself into a huge gas balloon and float away.
The US is not threatened by Iranian Nukes, neither by N. Korean nukes. They threaten only the US clients. and the only clients that the US cares about are ones with Oil and cheap labor. Israel doesn`t fit that. IIsrael will never be protected by the US. It has to take care of itself
Settlement building is a deliberate ploy to bury a 2-state solution under concrete. Unlike his predecessors, Obama not only sees that but he`s prepared to act in order to prevent it. If Bibi and co. do not stop settlement building I, for one, would encourage the US to suspend all financial, military and political support to my country.