Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Israel Replies


In Cairo, President Obama raised the stakes. He re-iterated again - loudly and in public and to the entire Arab and Muslim world - that America objects to new Israeli construction in the occupied territories.
Today, perhaps hoping that Obama is distracted by Iran, North Korea, Health Insurance, and the economy, Israel gave its real answer. (Forget Natanyahu's speech - that was just for show.)
According to Haaretz:

Defense Minister Ehud Barak has authorized the building of 300 new homes in the West Bank, defying U.S. calls for a halt to settlement growth. ... Barak recently authorized the Civil Administration to submit a plan for the construction of 300 housing units in the unauthorized outpost of Givat Habrecha, near the community of Talmon.

... The new construction is located around 13 kilometers east of the Green Line, [and about 5 kilometers] on the "Palestinian" side of the separation barrier.


Not only is this construction not in an "authorized settlement" (thus it violates Israel's own planning and approvals process), not only is it not in a "major settlement block", it is deep inside the territory Israels has said that it would be willing to return to the Palestineans should they meet Israel's conditions (like agreeing to Israel keeping the major settlement blocks, agreeing to a demilitarized state, and agreeing that Palestineans should be second class citizens inside Israel.)

Well? Is Obama going to allow himself to be played the fool? Israel is no doubt testing Obama's will, hoping he will fold. But, having raised the stakes so publicly, he better not have been bluffing. If he lets this slide for too long, he can kiss goodbye to whatever credibility he currently has on the Israel/Palestine file.

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