Watch this candid interview between Charlie Rose and Bob Simon, filmed prior to the 60 Minutes segment. It is rare to hear such candor, even in a relatively obscure corner of public television. Simon, by the way, lived in Tel Aviv for ten years.
Related commentary from Muzzle Watch.
Predictably,Israel's rightwing supporters have leveled predictable charges of bias and prejudice in an attempt to discredit CBS and 60 Minutes. See Camera , which avers dedication to "accuracy" in Middle East reporting, but in fact typically attacks any and all reporting that deviates from Israel-does-no-wrong; or the ADL, which accuses CBS of a "hatchet job."
As I noted in an earlier post, if you believe that reports like Bob Simon's deserve to be heard then make yourself heard. See the earlier post for contact info to CBS.
On this site I have consistently noted that the Israeli colonization of the West Bank is illegal. This is a position that is widely held in the world, including by the EU. Equally important, the purpose of the settlements is expressly to make a two-state solution impossible. Bob Simon argues that the situation has passed the tipping point. Perhaps he is right, and, if not, the tipping point is close. From the standpoint of U.S. interests in the Middle East and vis-a-vis the Muslim world, it is certainly important for the U.S. to be on the right side of the settlement issue. There is no room for waffling. Without a firm and stern U.S. stance, those forces in Israel that support a two-state solution will be thwarted. This is a point the Senator George Mitchell understands all too well.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who has gone through some sort of out of body experience and has publicly repudiated his own long support for the settlements, argues that no peace is possible if Israeli settlements remain. He is certainly right. Olmert, or any other leader committed to a two-state solution will need to be pushed by the U.S. Otherwise, they will not be able to stand up to domestic pressures in Israel. This is a point that serious observers like Bernard Avishai have argued, as readers of From the Field will know.