By Ted Belman
Sec’y Clinton delivered her much anticipated speech on the ME on Friday. The efforts of the USto acheive an agreement are based on her premise.
“The position of the United States on settlements has not changed and will not change. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity. We believe their continued expansion is corrosive not only to peace efforts and the two-state solution, but to Israel’s future itself.”
Note that this administration is not calling settlements “illegal”. Whatever does she mean by rejecting the “legitimacy”?
When she says that continued expansion is “corrosive” to peace, she is envisaging a return by Israel to the greenline. If Israel is prepared to have a greenline as a border, there is no point in building what you will have to take down. But Israel wants more and to get more there is every reason to continue building.
Firstly, time will no longer be on the side of the Palestinians. The more they wait to make a deal, the more we build. Were we to stop building, the Arabs could wait forever and could continue to build. We would not be able to provide for our community needs for “natural growth”. We would then have to start buiding west of the greenline to accommodate the growth that emanates from Jews east of the greenline. In short our plans for Judea and Samaria would be placed in limbo.
Even without the freeze, we are constrained by a number of agreements we have entered into. Many decades ago, we agreed with the US administration to limit construction to infilling in existing settlements and to remove “illegal settlements” which are described so only because they are new settlments. Although the Roadmap required us to cease all settlement activity, subsequent US administrations contined to allow us to build as previously agreed, save for the Obama administration.
So very limited construction will continue under constant hectoring. Even so, it is better than a freeze.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak spoke before the forum following Clinton, and stressed that Israel understood that a two-state solution was the only option.
“The world is changing before our eyes and is no longer willing to accept, even temporarily, our continued control over another people. Two states for two peoples is the only true path of Zionism today,”
“In spite good faith efforts, together with the Administration we were unable to launch the second moratorium for ninety days,” Barak said, adding “that shouldn’t cause us losing sight of what needs to be done.”
The world passed Res 242 which allowed us to stay in occupation until we had an agreement for secure and recognized borders. This implied a negotiated settlement. Since the Arabs have rejected a negotiated settlement, the world now wants us to get out without negotiations. In fact it wants to impose borders on us.
While it may be true that Israelis prefer a two state solution to annexation, they reject the two state solution the world is trying to force on them. They reject sharing Jerusalem, maybe, and they reject uprooting 100,000 Israelis, maybe.
Rather than talk about borders, Israel wants to talk about her security needs. From what I have read, Netanyahu isn’t holding the line on all her needs. In fact there appears to be a discussion on limiting Israel’s presence in the Jordan valley to a number of decades.
Yet Hillary said more.
“The status quo is untenable. And we will redouble our regional diplomacy. When one way is blocked, we will seek another. “
debkafile’s Washington sources disclose that what she had in mind was an alternative path which still remains to be marked out: It would move Middle East peacemaking out of the deadlocked US-Palestinian-Israeli track and introduce a new set of prime movers with the long-term goal of a regional peace settlement.
Washington has taken the first step of trying to resolve the Turkish-Israeli dispute over Ankara’s maritime bid to bust the Gaza blockade in order to open the door to restoring the old dialogue and strategic relationship between Ankara and Jerusalem.
In a parallel step, the US has acted to bring Turkey into active mediation on the Iranian nuclear controversy.
Washington will approve the talks with Iran the Six Powers (US, Russia, France, China, UK and Germany) embarked on this week ending in a deal for an enriched uranium swap to take place on Turkish soil under international supervision. Tehran has in the past demanded that this swap take place in Turkey. The Americans want to make sure that at no time, Iran holds enough enriched uranium for producing a nuclear bomb.
Once that accord goes through, the Erdogan government will be free to return to its interrupted role of 2007-2008 under the Olmert government as peace broker between Israel and Syria. An accommodation on that track, if achieved, would pave the way for Ankara taking over revived Israel-Palestinian negotiations.
Encouraged by Washington, Israeli diplomat Yosef Ciechanover and Turkey’s deputy foreign minister Feridun Sinirlioglu held their first fence-mending talks in Geneva on Dec. 5. The ice was not broken.
Indeed, Friday, Dec. 10, Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said in Ankara: “There has been no change in Turkey’s expectations from Israel. Israel has behaved unjustly against Turkey regarding aid ship Mavi Marmara and we are still expecting compensation and an apology.”
debkafile: Israel regards the commandos who prevented the Turkish ship from reaching Gaza as having performed their duty to defend the blockade in the face of attacks by armed “peace activists” aboard the vessel.
At the same time, this week, the Israeli security cabinet approved the start of farm produce exports from Gaza to Europe, notwithstanding the rising level of Palestinian missile and mortar attacks from the territory on neighboring Israeli villages. The concession was intended to show Ankara that Jerusalem was willing to partially meet Turkey’s demand to lift the Gaza blockade.