President Barack Obama has just gotten the Netanyahu treatment. Obama came into office saying that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli one is key to American security.
He had his special envoy cajole Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of the far right Likud Party for over a year, pressuring him to freeze further Israeli theft of Palestinian land so that Mahmoud Abbas, caretaker president of the Palestine Authority, would agree to come to the negotiating table.
Now Netanyahu has reneged on his pledge to negotiate in good faith, and has let the settlement freeze expire while making no effort to extend it. In other words, he humiliated the United States and let them know who is boss.
The Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot is reporting, according to the London daily al-Quds al-`Arabi, that Obama pleaded with Netanyahu to extend the settlement freeze for a month or two. If at the end of that period, Obama is said to have pledged, there had been no progress in the peace talks, then the US would not object to the freeze lapsing. Moreover, he was willing to given written assurances of American commitment to Israeli security. Netanyahu declined to accept Obama’s pleading.
If this story, sourced to a high administration official in Washington who declined to be named, is true, it bespeaks diplomatic amateurism on Obama’s part. Obama should not have put himself in a position where he had to plead with Netanyahu! Now that the United States has been arrogantly blown off by Tel Aviv, it just looks weak and pathetic, a helpless giant — a posture that could well encourage its enemies to attempt to inflict their own humiliations on it.
Netanyahu doesn’t care about US security or US needs. At a time when many Americans have slipped into poverty, we send Netanyahu billions in aid every year, even though Israel is a relatively affluent society.
Netanyahu says most of his cabinet members were against extending the freeze. But obviously he got them to go along with the freeze before, he could have done it again if he wanted to. Besides, the Kadima Party, although in the opposition, has pledged to support the peace talks, so Netanyahu’s hawkish partners likely could not cause the government to collapse through a vote of no confidence. Netanyahu could have done it if he had wanted to.
Abbas called Monday for Netanyahu to again halt settlement expansion in the West Bank for “another three or four months” so that peace talks can continue, according Al-Quds al-`Arabi.
Abbas had only agreed to begin face to face talks with Netanyahu after the settlement freeze was announced. As it was, Israel widely violated its own announced policy in this regard and Abbas held his nose and forged ahead.
Reuters has video on Abbas’s decision and French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s objection to Netanyahu’s attempt to torpedo the peace talks.
Abbas says he will make a decision next week about whether to continue with the talks.
The Guardian has video on how militant Israeli squatters on the Palestinian West Bank immediately began pouring concrete as soon as the 8-month ban on settlement construction ended:
Israel militarily occupied the Palestinian West Bank in 1967 and has been mistreating its residents, cooping them up, stealing their land and resources, controlling their borders, imprisoning them in cantons and generally making their lives miserable ever since. The United Nations Charter, to which Israel is signatory, forbids the annexation of land through warfare. The Geneva Conventions forbid occupying states to settle their own citizens in occupied territory. The West Bank and Gaza were never awarded to Israel by the United Nations and simply don’t belong to it, nor do their 4 million inhabitants, whom Israel has kept as stateless colonial subjects.
Americans, who rebelled against King George for taxing them without representation and for billeting troops in their houses without permission, ought to be able to sympathize with Palestinians, who are being treated by Israel the way King George III treated George Washington and the other Virginians.
Since Israel concluded the Oslo peace accords with the Palestinians in the early 1990s, it has poured hundreds of thousands of squatters into the Palestinian West Bank (which it had pledged to give back) and usurped large amounts of Palestinian land and other resources, which its politicians now say they will never give back.
Abbas had insisted that he wasn’t falling for those sorts of “peace negotiations” again, since likely at the end of them there would be no Palestinian territory left at all. Netanyahu’s insolence toward the United States, whose security depends on a resolution of this issue, has put Abbas in an impossible position.