Monday, June 29, 2009

Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens: Don't give in on settlements

Arens argues that the Israeli right to live in Judea and Samaria is a principle. He argues that giving up this right will put Israel on a slippery slope dealing with the U.S. He urges Netanyahu to forswear compromise and, in the end, he is confident that Israel's "staunch supporters" in the U.S. will stand by the Zionist state. He sees this as a test for the American Jewish leadership, and for the people of Israel as well.

So here we have it: Israel should continue to colonize the West Bank and East Jerusalem even if doing so leads to a reduction of U.S. support, or even a severe crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations. In the end, Israel's friends in the U.S. will smooth it all over.

As Arens himself notes, unease is growing in Israel about relations with the U.S. One suspects that many Israelis will receive the Arens' perspective with skepticism and alarm. Moreover, one senses that both Barak and Netanyahu will work to salve difference not to highlight them, as Arens proposes. Nonetheless, Arens' points are important because he reveals precisely the sort of categorical claims that no doubt inhabit cabinet debates in Israel.

1 comment:

William deB. Mills said...

Israel has not only rejected Obama’s pleas to halt illegal settlements but has taken new steps to enhance its illegal campaign to populate the conquered territories exactly at the moment Defense Minister Barak visits the U.S.—in a calculated insult to apparently helpless Obama. Washington has not explained why it would countenance even discussing this issue of international law with the Israeli minister of war, rather than a qualified legal team.

Israeli media have made no bones about the crux of the disagreement between Israel and the West, noting that extremists in the regime see no point in interfering with settlement in land that Israel plans to steal from the Palestinians anyway:

"Lieberman, together with ministers Benny Begin and Moshe Ya'alon of the Likud, said Israel should not compromise the future of settlements destined to remain within its borders."

Indeed! That, i.e., the ultimate destiny of the occupied territories--not the superficial issue of halting settlement expansion--is the question that the U.S. should be putting on the negotiating table with Israel (if Obama still thinks talk will accomplish anything).