And we’re off to the races again, with a big NY Times headline: State Department Rebukes Israel Over Settlement Activity, and yet another absurd tail chasing by the U.S., the E.U., Israeli and Jewish leftists, who are convinced that the true threat to the much yearned for 2-state solution is the fact that Jews will live in homes.
The most likely outcome, unfortunately, is that Prime Minister Netanyahu will capitulate, as he has done so many times before it’s an embarrassment to even mention it any more. Netanyahu is like your slightly slow nephew that you catch stealing ten dollars from your jacket pocket. You let him know that you know he did it, only to discover half an hour later that the kid stole the same ten dollar bill yet again.
Does he really think we don’t know he has no intention of actually building anything, that it’s all an election-month gimmick, after which he will surely find a fantastic explanation as to why he must not follow through (I’ll never, ever forget the post-Pillar of Defense appearance of the three tenors, Bibi, Ehud and Ivette, who told us they have achieved for us the very goal that 2 weeks earlier all three described as absolutely insufficient).
But, for now, Netanyahu has promised to start construction on thousands of new homes, 1,500 in Ramot Shlomo, well within Jerusalem proper, and 5,000 in E-1, also inside the Jerusalem municipality. And, again for now, he hasn’t reneged yet, so, who knows, maybe he became a Zionist overnight and will stick by his promises.
The world, fulfilling its own part in this bizarre dance, has taken its cue from the Palestinians, and started shrieking.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad told Reuters on Monday that “Settlement activity is unilateral” – you heard that? Going to the UN for statehood in violation of the written “Oslo” peace documents – that’s not unilateral. Building in Jerusalem – that’s a deal breaker.
Fayyad continued, saying the move “is completely adverse to the continued viability of a two-state solution and the possibility for our people to continue to exist.”
Now, observe the following exchange between a reporter and U.S. Dept. of State’s Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, over the issue of the mutual violations of the peace accords:
Reporter: “Up until now, the Palestinians haven’t had any recourse when these settlements were being built. Now, as an upgraded member of the United Nations General Assembly, they do have the option of joining the International Criminal Court or other courts and pursuing this as a matter of international law. And the United States itself recognizes that the settlements are not legal. So what incentive do you have to offer the Palestinians not to try and seek this redress in an international court when you yourself are saying that it’s provocative and it’s not legal?”
See what happened here? By acting unilaterally and in violation of their signed contracts with Israel, the Palestinians will now have to ability to take Israel to court over its own violations of the same contracts.
Now, in PA PM Salam Fayad’s play book, a viable Palestinian state must have East Jerusalem as its capital. Unfortunately, Fayad knows the score, but countless Israeli governments have failed to act on this essential issue: if Israel does not create facts in the field with mass construction in East Jerusalem, they’ll take it away from us. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but some Israeli prime minister, wishing to show how big hearted he or she is (think Tzipi Livni), will give it away – unless it’s built and populated with hundreds of thousands of Jews.
And so, on cue, on Tuesday, E.U. foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton joined the chorus of condemnation, saying that the European block was “deeply dismayed by and strongly opposes” the Israeli plans.
U.S. Dept. of State’s Spokesperson Victoria Nuland, in her much quoted press briefing appearance on Tuesday, was asked: You will have seen Prime Minister Netanyahu’s comments this morning that they will continue to build in Jerusalem, East Jerusalem included, because it is the undivided and eternal capital of Israel. You will probably also have seen that several European countries that are members of the Security Council are talking about drafting some kind of condemnatory language about this. So one, I’m wondering what your reaction is to the Prime Minister’s comments, and two, I’m wondering if you’ll sign on to the European expression of extreme displeasure.”
Ms. Nuland: “With regard to the larger settlement issue and statements recently and actions on the ground, we are deeply disappointed that Israel insists on continuing this pattern of provocative action. These repeated announcements and plans of new construction run counter to the cause of peace. Israel’s leaders continually say that they support a path towards a two-state solution, yet these actions only put that goal further at risk. So we again call on Israel and the Palestinians to cease any kinds of counterproductive unilateral actions and take concrete steps to return to direct negotiations.”
The bottom line here is: in order to gain peace through a 2-state solution, Israel will have to abandon its densely populated neighborhoods in annexed East Jerusalem. On that point no one in the West, and, needless to say, on the Arab side, has moved an inch since the annexation, back in 1967. And no one will move in our direction any time soon.
In order to achieve a 2-state solution we will have to give up East Jerusalem.
You don’t want to give it up? Then let’s stop talking about the 2-state thing as if it is actually a viable option.
So a reporter at the briefing compared the PA’s UN move with Netanyahu’s declaration: “Is it a recognition of the fact that when the Palestinians take steps that you think are provocative and unhelpful to the process, that those steps actually do not change things on the ground, i.e. going to the UN and asking for recognition there, and that when the Israelis do things that you think are provocative and unhelpful to the process, they actually have the effect of changing the situation on the ground and affecting issues that you believe need to be decided only in negotiation?”
Ms. Nuland: “The number one way to settle this whole question of building and settlements is for the parties to come together and settle security, settle boundaries between them. That is the right path forward. We don’t want to see provocative action on either side. But you’re absolutely right that this strong statement today reflects concern about what’s going on.”
Reporter: “A follow-up on your deep disappointment. You just said you’re deeply disappointed. I assume that you’re referring to the confiscation of about 450 acres, which is 1,200 dunams, yesterday from Abu Dis and Hazara. Now, how will this deep disappointment impact what is going on on the ground? I mean, it seems that from briefing to briefing, more land is taken.”
Ms. Nuland: “Again, I think I just spoke about this, that the only way forward is to have a lasting settlement between these parties. But again, we are not in a good cycle here. We need to break this cycle, end the provocative actions, and get these parties back to the table. It is not easy. It has not been easy for quite some time. We can’t want this more than the parties themselves want it. And we are going to continue to work on it and we’re going to continue to call it how we see it when either side takes provocative action.”
So very patient, she is. And we seem to disappoint her so much, every day, with our provocations.
Folks, I’m ready to take bets on the date when Netanyahu capitulates on the entire construction project. It’ll have to be after he forges a government.
And if Beit Yehudi is in the next coalition, let’s also bet on what kinds of wise explanation Naftali Bennet will be offering on why we had to curtail East Jerusalem construction. Something to do with being more effective inside the government than outside. Better we freeze settlements than Meretz does it…
Of course, I could be wrong. God, help me be wrong…
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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