Vice President Joe Biden travels to Israel Monday to discuss the
Israel-Palestine peace process. But Israeli leaders are throwing Biden
a curve ball, reversing
Israel's freeze on growth in the highly contentious settlements.
Israel had earlier acquiesced to international pressure to halt the
growth of Israeli settlements in Palestinian regions. What will this
development mean for the difficult peace process, and for the sometimes
tense relationship between the U.S., Israel and the Palestinian
- Doesn't Look Good The New York Times' Ethan Bronner writes
that U.S. attempts at peace "have generated only the faintest
enthusiasm here. Israeli and Palestinian leaders are skeptical that the
other side will really accept a two-state solution. In addition, the
contours and powers of a future Palestinian state are in sharp
dispute." Bronner writes that settlements could be a major stumbling
block. "There are 500,000 Israeli Jews living on land the Palestinians
want as part of their state. Even if much of the land they are on were
granted to Israeli annexation in exchange for territory for the
Palestinians, there would still be a need to relocate tens of thousands
- Israel's Settlements Problem The Atlantic's Jeffrey Goldberg reflects. "It
is undeniably true that Jewish fundamentalists wield disproportionate
power in Israeli decision-making; it is true that a small minority --
fundamentalist settlers -- has kept Israel entangled in the lives of
the Palestinians on the West Bank; it is true that, because of the
power of the Orthodox rabbinate, it is easier in some ways to be Jewish
in America than in the Jewish state (Just ask women who try to pray at
the Western Wall.) All this is not to say that Israel isn't still the
most enlightened democracy in the Middle East, but there's not much of
- Israel's Message to U.S. Liberal
blogger Joe Sudbay translates, "I'm no expert on the Middle East, but
it sure looks like the Israeli government trying to send the U.S. a
signal. From the pool report, we were told Biden's plane left for
Jerusalem at 8:30 PM EST and arrived at 4:08 Israeli time (seven hours
ahead of EST.) So, the Israel government made this announcement while
the Veep was on his way."
- Obama Should Push Israel The Guardian's Olivia Hampton writes, "Arab capitals were buoyed when Obama initially dared confront Israel over settlements.
But when pressure mounted in Washington and around the country against
harming US relations with Israel, the president quickly backed down and
made amends - somewhat - with hawkish Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu."
- Don't Lose Urgency of Peace Talks Former Israel Foreign Affaors Minister Tzipi Livni tells Foreign Policy,
"We have no time -- time works against us. The conflict can be
transferred from a national conflict to a religious one, which is
unsolvable, and this is something that we cannot afford." She says the
U.S. and Israel have a mutual interest in resolving the conflict, and
that Israel and Palestine have a mutual interest in a two-state
solution, but that all sides must move quickly.
- Hopeless Commentary's Rick Richman writes,
"the chances for success in the foreseeable future are virtually nil."
He argues that the Palestinian leadership "does not have the ability or
authority to negotiate a peace agreement, much less implement one."
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