Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's Sauce for Palestinians Must Apply to Israelis

In an interview with Army Radio on Monday, Ehud Barak, the defense minister and leader of the center-left Labor Party, gave a hypothetical example of a family of four that originally moved into a two-room home in a settlement. “Now there are six children,” he said. “Should they be allowed to build another room or not?”
Not when a Palestinian's home is bulldozed for merely adding a room or a floor. Not when Palestinians lose not only the land the settlement expands to, but also the land for roads they're not allowed to travel on, and land for checkpoints so the settlers can feel protected while Palestinians are prevented from going to schools, hospitals, or just to work.

“The Israeli government wants to reach understandings with the Obama administration that would allow some new construction in West Bank settlements, an Israeli official said, despite vocal American and Palestinian opposition.

The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is expected to focus on the issue of settlement expansion in his meeting with President Obama in their meeting scheduled for Thursday in Washington. Mr. Abbas and other Palestinian leaders see no point in resuming stalled peace negotiations without an absolute settlement freeze.
President  Obama and other senior American officials have called on the government of Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud Party to halt all settlement activity.
Dan Meridor, the Israeli minister of intelligence, and other senior Netanyahu aides returned on Wednesday from meetings in Europe with President Obama’s Middle East envoy, George Mitchell, and other American officials. The purpose was to continue discussing issues raised in last week’s Netanyahu-Obama meeting, including that Mr. Obama’s objections to settlement expansion.

Close to 300,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem, dominating a Palestinian population of some 2.5 million. Most of the world considers the settlements a violation of international law.

Mr. Netanyahu says that his government will not build any new settlements and will take down a number of outposts erected in recent years by settlers without proper government authorization. But he insists that his government will allow building within existing settlements to accommodate what he termed “natural growth,” essentially continuing the policy of the last few Israeli governments.
Israel claims understandings with the Bush administration — some formal, some informal and some tacit — on building within settlements. Construction was limited in small settlements but tolerated in large ones in areas that Israel intends to keep under any deal with the Palestinians.
“We want to work to reach understandings with the new administration” that are “fair” and “workable,” said the Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the issue was still under discussion.


Obama's administration wants a settlement freeze to create an environment for peace-making, encouraging gestures toward normalizing ties with Israel from Arab governments, and buttressing a coalition of countries opposed to Iran developing nuclear weapons.

In an effort to show goodwill, Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Barak have been underscoring their willingness to take down 22 small outposts that are illegal under Israeli law, and which were supposed to have been removed under the 2003 American-backed peace plan known as the road map. That plan specified that Israel should halt “all settlement activity (including natural growth).”

Mr. Barak has said he will try to remove the small outposts by agreement with the settlers, and if agreement is not reached, then by force. Settlers have vowed to rebuild any outpost that is removed and to create more.
In the early hours of Wednesday morning, the police removed some sheds and a tent from two tiny outposts in the Hebron area.

Another small outpost was demolished in the Ramallah region last week, but new shacks have already appeared there. None of the three outposts were on the list of 22, but the measures against them prompted furious reactions from the hard right.

Many religious Jewish nationalists say it is their right to settle in the biblical heartland of the West Bank, which they refer to as Judea and Samaria. Others cite security reasons for holding on to the areas captured in the 1967 war. Settling occupied territory is a violation of international law.

A rather sore point of contention between the Israeli government and the Obama administration is Mr. Netanyahu’s refusal to publicly endorse a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a cornerstone of American policy. ”


http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/28/world/middleeast/28mideast.html?ref=world
There seems to be no desire toreach fair and workable understandings with the Palestinian Authority.
con·cept: What's Sauce for Palestinians Must Apply to Israelis