Sunday, January 24, 2010

Netanyahu in the Settlements

Benjamin Netanyahu once again demonstrates his commitment to peace:
"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised to build in the settlement cities of Ariel and Ma'aleh Adumim, as well as in Gush Etzion, only hours after US special envoy George Mitchell left Israel without showing any tangible signs that he had moved Israel or the Palestinians closer to the negotiating table.

"The Palestinians have insisted they will only speak with Israel after it has stopped building in West Bank settlements and in east Jerusalem...

"In the afternoon, however, he reaffirmed his commitment to the settlement blocs of Ariel, Ma'aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion when he called them an indisputable part of Israel.

"In advance of Tu Bishvat, which marks the new year for trees, Netanyahu planted a tree both in Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in Gush Etzion and in Ma'aleh Adumim. It was Netanyahu's first visit toWest Bank settlements since he took office at the end of last March...

"With these trees, Netanyahu said he wanted to 'send a clear message that we are here. We will stay here. We are planning and we are building.'"

On one level, Netanyahu is correct that most of those territories are likely to remain Israeli under any negotiated agreement, although Ma'aleh Adumim slices the West Bank nearly in two. The timing, however, simply allows him to thumb his nose at the Obama administration and reaffirm his status as a right-wing nationalist for whom peace means dominance over a foe who has no choice but to accept your dictates.

Note also the PNA's simple condition for resuming negotiations: Israel mus stop building in the territory which, in the eyes of the international community, is the subject of negotiations. This is a condition the Netanyahu government is unwilling to meet. Why should Israel end their slow ingestion of Palestinian land when they pay no price, and their ultimate victory comes ever closer?

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