Lieberman v. Clinton on 'settlements'Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a real knockdown dragout on Wednesday afternoon over Israeli 'settlement' building.
Let's go to the videotape and I'll have more below. The 'fun' starts with the very first question at the 4:10 mark and it runs until about the 10:30 mark when they move on to Iran.
The Financial Times of London called this press conference "one of the most tense encounters between the sides for several years."
Of course, what the press conference confirms is that the Americans have pocketed Prime Minister Netanyahu's Sunday night concessions and are continuing to pressure Israel - exclusively - for more. I'm sure you're all shocked that the Obama administration has apparently attended the Yasser Arafat School of Negotiation. Perhaps Bob Wexler and Gary Ackerman will have something to say about that. Don't hold your breaths.
Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) adds:
Secretary Clinton views the destruction of “settlements,” meaning Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as a crucial step towards creating a new Palestinian Authority state on the same land, with its capital in eastern Jerusalem.That first point is well-taken: Clinton (and Obama) view the destruction of 'settlements' as a crucial step. Yes, that's what it's all about - dismantling the Jewish state.
After years of an almost non-stop erosion of Israeli positions opposed by the United States, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has drawn clear red lines that have a left a stalemate, at least for the time being.
You will note that Clinton cited Dan Kurtzer's Washington Post article, which agrees with her view of what happened, but not Elliot Abrams' article that disagreed with Clinton's account and warned that the administration's insistence on the 'settlement freeze' would not accomplish anything and would create 'immediate tension' between the US and Israel. Abrams' prediction seems prescient.
One more factor should be thrown in: The administration has unearthed a 30-year old legal opinion by Herbert J. Hansel, the State Department legal adviser during the Carter administration, which claims that the 'settlements' are 'illegal' under the Geneva Convention. Now, I could write the legal opinion that explains why Hansel is wrong, but no one asked me to, and no one at the State Department has ever written another legal opinion, so Hansel's is the only one that's on the table. And while the Obama administration is declining to discuss it for the time being, my guess is that if the Netanyahu government sticks to its guns, we are going to be hearing a lot more about the Hansel opinion in the future.
What some people in both the US and Israel don't seem to understand is that the Obama administration wants either a full Israeli surrender or a clash with Israel. By being seen as playing the heavy against Israel, the Obama administration enhances its status with the Arab-Muslim world to which President Obama wants to play. Secretary of State Clinton - notorious for having made kissy kissy with Soha Arafat moments after the latter accused Israel of poisoning Gaza's water - is more than happy to play along with Obama's aspirations on this score.
What could go wrong?
By the way, Secretary of State Clinton fell and fractured her elbow sometime after her press conference with Lieberman on Wednesday (Hat Tip: NY Nana via Little Green Footballs). Can we call that an Act of God?
UPDATE 6:21 PM
There's a transcript of the joint press conference here (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).
UPDATE 6:32 PM
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