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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Israel learning from the 'Palestinians'

While Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently learned nothing from the 'Palestinians,' his cabinet apparently has. For years, the 'Palestinians' have stood aside and forced Israel to negotiate peace with itself, continually raising the ante as the 'Palestinians' sit silent. Some of you may not like this, but that's exactly what's happened between Israel and the US over the last ten days. The Israeli cabinet is standing aside and the US just keeps upping the ante.
On Friday, the Obama administration confirmed publicly for the first time its readiness to give Israel written assurances on security issues. Mr. Netanyahu says he needs those guarantees to persuade members of his Cabinet to support the freeze, which is intended to revive peace talks with the Palestinians.

“If there is a need to put certain things in writing, we will be prepared to do that,” said the State Department spokesman, Philip J. Crowley. He declined to discuss the provisions that would be in such a document.

The delay in winning Cabinet approval for the 90-day freeze has sowed doubts, among both Israeli and American officials, that Mr. Netanyahu can lock in the necessary votes from his ministers, several of whom fiercely oppose any restrictions on Jewish housing in the West Bank or East Jerusalem.

When news of the agreement surfaced, two days after Mr. Netanyahu and Mrs. Clinton met in New York on Nov. 11, analysts predicted he would win a Cabinet vote by at least one vote. Now, though, ministers from the ultra-right Shas party are said to be considering voting against the freeze, rather than abstaining, as they had been expected to do.

Shas would like the administration to declare explicitly that East Jerusalem will not be covered by the moratorium. The United States, which opposes all settlement construction, will not agree to that, an official said, although he said it was implicit that the 90-day freeze applies to the West Bank, not East Jerusalem.

Another sticking point, Israeli and American officials say, is the terms under which the United States would deliver 20 F-35 stealth aircraft, worth $3 billion. The planes are the most tangible security incentive offered by Mrs. Clinton in an eight-hour session with Mr. Netanyahu in New York on Nov. 11.

Initially, a senior official said, the planes were contingent on Mr. Netanyahu concluding a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Now, he said, Israel may get the planes even if it does not clinch a deal.

Israeli officials believe Mrs. Clinton offered the planes free of charge, according to a senior Israeli official. But an American official said Israel must pay some of the $3 billion, though it will be subsidized by the United States. The question, this official said, is how large a subsidy Israel will get: it paid one-third of the cost of the first 20 F-35’s it bought from the United States.
While Netanyahu has been criticized here for not getting it in writing from Clinton before he left Washington, that actually seems to be working out to Israel's benefit. People here heard broad outlines of what was offered and assumed the best possible deal for Israel. And now, Netanyahu can't get it through the cabinet without that best possible deal - if then.

The work of the righteous is done in Heaven (rabbinic proverb). Heh.

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At 3:42 PM, Blogger Lydia McGrew said...

AP news this morning--which I'm sure you've seen--is that Abbas won't return to talks without a freeze that _does_ include Jerusalem. Heh.

At 6:10 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

And Carl as I mentioned, Netanyahu wants Pollard released before he will agree to any freeze deal - in writing. If there's one thing Israel learned from the Palestinians, its to keep raising the price.

I don't see a freeze deal coming before the Cabinet in a vote any time soon in the foreseeable future.



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