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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Netanyahu offers 9 months, US drops Jerusalem demand

In two separate stories, Haaretz is reporting that Prime Minister Netanyahu offered US Middle East envoy George Mitchell a 9-month 'settlement freeze' during their Wednesday meeting in London, and that the US administration has now backed off the demand that the 'freeze' include Jerusalem. This is from the first story:
The Americans are slated to respond to Netanyahu's proposal at a meeting in Washington next week between Mitchell and two Israeli officials: Netanyahu's envoy, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's chief of staff, Brig. Gen. Mike Herzog.

Mitchell himself will return to Jerusalem in the second week of September with the goal of finalizing an agreement.

The new Israeli proposal will exclude some 2,500 housing units on which construction has already started.

Additionally, in special cases where it is necessary to keep "normal life," Netanyahu wants to be able to erect public buildings in the settlements - mainly kindergartens and schools.

Finally, Israel wants the freeze to have a clear "exit plan." In Israel's view, the freeze is a confidence-building measure that must be matched by reciprocal steps from the PA and Arab states. If these fail to materialize, Israel wants an American guarantee that it will not oppose renewed building.
Separately, Abu Mazen has apparently agreed to meet Netanyahu on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September. Until now, he had refused to meet with Netanyahu until Israel implemented a full 'settlement freeze.'

Two questions that seem unanswered by this article: When do the nine months start? My guess is that they will start in September but in all fairness they should have started counting from March when the government implemented a de facto freeze. And my second question: Have the reciprocal measures been specified and if so, what are they? And who has to take them? I have no idea what the answer to that question is.

This is from the Jerusalem story:
According to both Israeli officials and Western diplomats, U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has recognized the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot announce a settlement freeze in East Jerusalem. The officials said the U.S. will not endorse new construction there, but would not demand Jerusalem publicly announce a freeze.
In other words, Obama is going back to Bush administration policy on the issue. Hope and change same. Amazing how Obama occasionally does something sensible, isn't it?


At 12:16 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Is Israel required to keep the freeze commitment if the Arabs refuse to respond with reciprocal gestures? Does Israel have to renew it when the nine months are up? A lot of unanswered questions and Israel is being asked to make a big concession knowing full well she will get nothing in return.


At 2:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

and still you chide obama....for doing exactly what i said would happen

because he is learning, just as clinton did, that it is impossible to have the arabs at the negotiating table

At 2:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw carl,

have you heard the story making the rounds of the idf shutting down the bet lechem radio station that seems to still be broadcasting?

At 6:21 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Sorry Carl but I think you're missing the forest for the trees here. Netanyahu has caved on all the essential points: there have been no construction permits for J&S issued since March and the US will remain quiet publicly on eastern Jerusalem so long as Israel refrains from taking "provocative" measures, e.g, evicting Arab squatters. Why do you think Abbas is now making noises about meeting with Netanyahu?

Abbas gets what he wants, Obama gets what he wants, and Netanyahu gets to remain in power with no public spats.

At 7:45 AM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

The backlash has begun.


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