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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

We don't take orders from Obama!

In case you missed the implication of what I posted on Monday, I believe that the announcements regarding Migron/Adam, Givat Zev and Maaleh Adumim over the weekend and on Monday were attempts to tell the Obama administration that Israel does not take orders from The One. In fact, it kind of reminded me of the good old days when Yitzchak Shamir was Prime Minister and every time George H. W. Bush would send someone here to visit, we would start a new 'settlement' on his arrival.

Two analysts are asking today whether the timing of the announcements cited above is coincidental. One is Haaretz's Akiva Eldar, who asks why Israel is 'blatantly breaking US rule on settlements.'
Defense Minister Ehud Barak most certainly knows better than anyone else that there is no chance of the U.S. accepting the Migron-Adam deal, put forth by the Defense Ministry on Monday before the Supreme Court. Even those who claim that the Bush administration allowed them to continue building to meet the needs of "natural growth" in settlement blocs know fully well that the exchange deal, offering Adam for Migron, would be inacceptable to even the most ardent Netanyahu supporters in Washington.


Eitan Broshi, the defense minister's aide for settlement affairs, argued Monday that this was part of a plan that had been approved by a previous government during the late 1990s. However, if the decisions of previous governments to expand settlements or to build new ones pave the way for the infusion of ever more settlers into the territories, there is no point to the commitment to freeze construction and to haggle over "natural growth." Such earlier decisions allow Israel to place a settlement under any tree located in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
I have four comments to this. First, no one elected Obama, Clinton and Co. to rule Israel. The entire notion that we are 'breaking a US rule' is laughable. The US doesn't make rules for us - we are not the 51st state. We have an elected government that makes rules for us.

Second, obviously, the definition of what is 'construction in progress' is something that will need to be discussed. And yes, it's unlikely those units will be built while a 'temporary freeze' is in effect, so there's no need to go getting all the Israel-haters in America and Europe exorcised about it. But the reality of the approval and construction process in this country is that it takes years. One personal story: We live in an area of the eastern part of Jerusalem (it was actually 'no man's land' before 1967). We signed up for our apartment in early 1992 and did not formally go to contract until late 1993 (and didn't move in until mid-1996 - but that's another story). In the fall of 1993, we had to put up money without yet having a contract because rumor had it that there was going to be a construction freeze in Jerusalem, and the dividing line was going to be whether you had your foundations down. So the contractors (with their Arab workers) were working frenetically to put foundations down for every apartment in the neighborhood so that they would be able to keep building. Since we had already been allocated our apartments, but did not have a formal contract, everyone knew who was paying for what. In the end, there was no freeze in 1993 (there was one in Judea and Samaria for several months as a concession under Oslo but not in Jerusalem). But look for foundations to be the dividing line between what is under construction and what is not.

Third, no one is agreeing to a permanent freeze - or a freeze until negotiations are concluded. And given how long it takes to get approvals here (they first discussed building where my neighborhood is now located in the late '70's!) no one is going to suggest that we start that process all over again. No one except Akiva Eldar.

Fourth, assuming the residents of Migron accept relocation to Adam, which is unlikely, I'd love to hear Eldar explain how that increases the number of Jews living in Judea and Samaria.

In the JPost, Yaakov Katz questions the timing of the announcements - particularly regarding Migron.
There are two possibilities regarding the bad timing in this case. One option is that the court had simply set the date for filing the affidavit without taking any external factors into account. However, one could ask why the Defense Ministry, which knew early last week about Barak's meeting with Mitchell, didn't just ask the court for an extension - something the ministry often does in similar cases.

The second possibility is that the filing of the affidavit as Barak left for the US was done on purpose to send a message to the Obama administration that Israel does not plan to cave in completely to America's demand for a settlement freeze. The construction in Adam is meant to pave the way for the evacuation of the illegal settlement of Migron, which is in itself just as important to the US - if not more so, since the outpost was built on private Palestinian land.
Obviously, I believe Katz's second alternative. Barak was trying to send a message to Obama that he's going to have to compromise. Let's see if Obama gets it.


At 3:45 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - I also recall your attention to the link I posted earlier from Moshe Arens' excellent op-ed in Haaretz today, where he writes the real dispute is over an inalienable Jewish right that cannot be canceled or revoked. The terminology of "natural growth" and a "settlement freeze" has allowed this fundamental Jewish right to be obscured. Israel cannot talk about this basic principle. Here is where Israel should make its stand regardless of how much the US turns up the heat. The right of Jews to live where they please in Eretz Israel is not to be discussed with any one and Israel owes Obama nothing on the subject.

Its time to restate it and oppose any freeze as an intolerable abrogation of a longstanding Jewish right. The Jewish people will no more accept a White Paper from the Obama White House in 2009 anymore than the Jewish people accepted the infamous British White Paper in 1939.

Now is the time for Israel to say "NO" and defend the Jewish right to settle in Yesha and those who don't like it, can as the late Rabin put it, "go spin their propellers."


At 7:57 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

Dispite his best jive walking, every two bit, despot in the world is thumbing their nose at Obama and his smart diplomacy. But yet Barry and crew expect Israel to humbly kowtow to Barry's wishes. All I have to say is shame on Israeli leadership if they do. And if they trust his word; the single act in which Obama has distinguished himself breaking his word and otherwise lying


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