In September 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ushered in a much-trumpeted “freeze” on West Bank settlement construction, as a supposed goodwill gesture to revive the defunct peace process. The freeze did not apply to Occupied East Jerusalem, territory which the government argues is part of the Israeli state and not subject to negotiation with the Palestinians. Even in the West Bank, however, the initiative was more a public relations ploy than a sign of changing Israeli policy. Explicitly intended to last a matter of months, the ‘freeze’ excluded both “2,500 housing units already under construction”, as well as “hundreds of new units” announced just prior to the start of the “freeze”. After the announcement, George Mitchell, the U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, was dispatched on a trip described as “a final push to revive Middle East peace talks”. But the transparently disingenuous approach of the Netanyahu government meant that Mitchell’s mission to restart negotiations between Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has overseen good relations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) on “security issues”, would be doomed to failure. Read more
Posts tagged ‘Obama’
George Mitchell is in Israel/Palestine as the White House’s special envoy, in a visit described as “a final push to revive Middle East peace talks”. The focus remains on Israel’s so –called settlement ‘freeze’, with Mitchell reported as saying that there was still work to be done on the “Israeli-American dispute over construction in the West Bank”. Ahead of his meeting with Mitchell today, Netanyahu has confirmed that there will not be a “complete halt to building” in the settlements, telling a Knesset committee that “a reduction on building in Judea and Samaria will only be for a limited period”. Read more
Ever since Barack Obama’s election, many have been eagerly awaiting the “new” approach they hope he will bring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in contrast to his predecessor. Yet rather than revealing change, my most recent visit to the region in April brought home to me how much of the Bush approach has been maintained under Obama and the Madrid Quartet with its special envoy Tony Blair.
That similarity is most clearly demonstrated by the huge contradiction that exists between the rhetoric of these major players when they talk about a “peace process” and the reality on the ground in Palestine/Israel. Read more