As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Define "Complete Settlement Freeze"

That's not what this looks like to me:

Israel would be open to a complete freeze of settlement building in the West Bank for three to six months as part of a broad Middle East peace endeavor that included a Palestinian agreement to negotiate an end to the conflict and confidence-building steps by major Arab nations, senior Israeli officials said Sunday [...]

The freeze would not affect construction that was already under way, nor include East Jerusalem. But it would mean that during the specified time no construction of any kind could start even in the close-in settlement blocks that Israel expects to keep in any future two-state agreement with the Palestinians.

A settlement "freeze" that doesn't affect current construction, has a three-to-six month end date, imposes multiple conditions on the Palestinians and doesn't include one of the settlement areas?

That's not even a thaw, let alone a freeze. The senior ministers, by the way, don't even agree on these decidedly uninspiring terms.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Middle East envoy George Mitchell met in New York yesterday and reached some agreement, and Israel appeared to be knuckling under slightly in the face of US pressure. But if this is the end result, I don't suspect that the Palestinians will perceive it as some grand concession. US officials adamantly asserted that they have not moved back on their position of a full settlement freeze including "natural growth." We'll see soon enough.

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