Saturday, March 20, 2010

Hey, It Worked

Ha'aretz reports that Netanyahu has bowed to American demands in the wake of the Jerusalem construction flap, freezing settlement construction, easing restrictions in Gaza, and releasing Fatah prisoners.

So, good work, USA. Now it's time to get folks back to the table. No more excuses.


N. Friedman said...


It appears that your Haaretz report is wrong. Haaretz now reports that "Netanyahu did not agree to the American demand to limit Israeli construction in East Jerusalem, but did commit to closer monitoring of building in the city to avoid embarrassing incidents." The Jerusalem Post reports: Netanyahu saids that his administration's "'policy toward Jerusalem is the same policy of all Israeli governments in the past 42 years and it has not changed,' he said."

Most likely, Israel has proposed, as reported by Jackson Diehl: "The result would not be a freeze, but something like a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for settlements."

I can understand Obama taking the view that Israel not build in the WB. While that approach has caused the Palestinian Arab side to refuse face to face negotiations, at least it involved land that can rationally be argued to be occupied, not disputed, land.

Jerusalem, unless you plan to wish away UN 181, is disputed land. It was never assigned to the Arab side. It was to be Internationalized, then later assigned. And, the Arab side rejected UN 181 and attempted to annex it, which the world rejected. So, it was never assigned to one side or the other. On what basis is it occupied Palestinian Arab land, such that Israel ought not build on it? Surely, you can give me a legal eagle explanation.

The administration has now issued an invitation to Netanyahu to meet the President. If the President backs down - which, at this point, seems to be what occurred -, the President has further harmed the negotiation process. I say this because it was entirely predictable - and predicted by many - not only that Netanyahu would refuse to cease building in Jerusalem but because a labor government or a Kadima government would do the same. And, given that major donors (i.e. bundlers and the like) to the Democrats are now really ticked off at Obama and given that Congressional leaders have basically told him to back off, Obama has screwed up, once again, assuming his goal is really related to Israel's behavior - which, given that I do not think him a complete idiot, I doubt.

Query: in that the borders of Israel, pre-1967, led to two major wars and, thereafter, one war in an effort to force Israel back to those borders, why do you think that those borders will have a better result this time? Would they not be an invitation for war, as is the pattern throughout the world and throughout history when a country has a seemingly vulnerable border?

My view: I favor a two state solution, if it actually resolves the dispute. I am, however, not wed to the idea. I suspect that the solution which, in the end, is most likely to emerge, after much violence, is either a state that is mostly Jewish or a state that has no Jews.

I am rather shocked how people like you think there is a serious basis to resolve the dispute, if only the Israelis were more forthcoming. That strikes me as contrary to the way the world works. Perhaps you can provide a rationale whereby I am wrong that does not, at the same time, require the reader to imagine away Arab rejectionism. I do not think you can do so and find a way to undermine that rejectionism which, after all, is based on religion - something that, historically, is a potent force of irrationality.

N. Friedman said...

Oh, and by the way, according to Haaretz Dershowitz evidently sees J Street pretty much the way I see it.