Monday, May 25, 2009

How serious is Obama about freezing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank?

As the linked article explains, freezing settlement growth will require much more than identifying violations of Israeli commitments or gaps in Israeli reporting. It remains to be seen if the U.S. president is ready for the tough political battle he will have to wage in order to impede Israel's colonization of the West Bank.

What is obvious is that the present Israeli government will not cooperate with the U.S. to stop settlement growth. The article suggests that initial steps to remove unauthorized illegal settlements (as opposed to illegal settlements) would likely bring down the present government and thereby permit the formation of a coalition centrist government under Netanyahu. That scenario presumes that Netanyahu will resolve to move against unauthorized settlements, which is most unlikely.

As I have noted here before, the trope of Netanyahu's pragmatism and opportunism may be true in the general realm of Israeli politics, but the idea that he is willing to cooperate in the long term freezing and even reduction of settlements in order to facilitate the creation of a Palestinian state side-by-side with Israel is illusory. Therefore, an appropriate if unstated goal for U.S. policy should be to look forward to Netanyahu's exit from the Prime Minister's office not the prolongation of his stay.

See this related article about Netanyahu pressing on with settlements. And this one about archeology in the service of colonization in East Jerusalem.

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