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Thursday, June 18, 2009

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.

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.
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.

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?



There's a transcript of the joint press conference here (Hat Tip: Memeorandum).


Welcome Hot Air readers.


At 3:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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?

Sounds about right.

At 3:22 PM, Blogger Rafi G. said...

I am surprised at how meek Lieberman seems when he talks and answers questions. Is he intimidated by Hillary Clinton?

At 3:50 PM, Blogger Asher said...

If Hillary's fracture were a clear sign from G-d, then Ted Kennedy would have been killed by a drunk driver long ago.

At 4:19 PM, Blogger Stuart said...

I always thought Israel's claims that limiting natural growth meant limiting births to be rhetorical. It's not. From Mitchell's press conference on Tues June 16, transcribed on the State Dept web site found at


QUESTION: Well, what does natural growth mean? I mean, can you just use it in --

MR. MITCHELL: I’m constantly asked by editors, you know, please give a plain explanation of what natural growth is.

QUESTION: If it’s for your editor. (Laughter.)

MR. MITCHELL: Well, of course, one of the issues is that there is no universally used and accepted definition. The most common definition is by the number of births, but there are many variations of that. I’ve had numerous discussions with many Israeli and other officials, and there are almost as many definitions as there are people speaking. But I think the most commonly used measure is the number of births.

Mind blowing.

At 6:33 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

I noticed that early this morning Carl - when we suffer an injury or an illness, it may be nothing more than something we couldn't avoid. At other times, G-d may be using them to send us a message to force us to look at our lives so that what happens next is to our benefit. The Torah lays out what happens when you curse Israel. America is going to have problems with G-d by its bullying of Israel and Hillary's elbow fracture is just one scene in a very big picture. But don't look for the Adminstration to see it.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Stuart, Obama wants to decide how many babies Jews can have?

Mind-blowing, indeed. Is it time for revananters to practice celibacy?


At 7:06 PM, Blogger LB said...

Even I cringed a bit at the uncomfortable situation.

I was very happy to see Lieberman finally ask that question - to which of course Clinton responded with "don't worry, we can push you - we have in the past..."

At 7:34 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Most of us here understand that the settlements are entirely legal as per the Mandate, League of Nations, United Nations resolutions, etc. The case has been made eloquently by those like Eugene Rowstow, Dore Gold, George Will and others (even Madeleine Albright admitted that the settlements are not illegal in response to a direct question on NBCs Today program).

The question is why successive Israeli governments utterly fail, nay refuse to disabuse the international community of this misapprehension.

At 4:07 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Thanks for the hat tip, Carl.

Don't tell anyone, but I was smiling when I saw that.

'Can we call that an Act of God?'


/I wonder if a Jewish surgeon will do the repair, and decide that anesthesia is not needed..

At 4:09 AM, Blogger Lois Koenig said...

Shy Guy,

Good one! I saved it. Thanks.

At 4:42 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Moshe Feiglin has observed the most dangerous thing about Netanyahu's agreement to the establishment of a Palestinian state is that it amounts to an acceptance of the Arab narrative the Jews are foreign interlopers and colonialists on Arab land. No one will remember the conditions attached to the acceptance - the principle established is all that matters. The only real issue then is how to remove the Jews from it. That is the way the issue is going to be framed by Obama and the rest of the world and the pressure on Israel will only intensify in the future. Netanyahu brought Israel only momentary respite and the assault on Israel is being renewed with full force. Eventually Israel will be forced to agree to a Palestinian state regardless of her objections. Once established, the Arabs will be free to proceed to finish off what remains of a forcibly shrunken Israel. What is Israel's answer to that scenario?


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