Israel National News (Link) - Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu (June 8, 2009)
The liberal-leaning Washington Post, often noted as reflecting U.S. policy, editorialized Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama’s demand that Israel stop all building for Jews in Judea and Samaria may leave him without Israel as an ally and without Arab support. The daily traditionally has taken a harsh view of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.
“The problem is that no Israeli government -- not Mr. Netanyahu's, not even one led by the current opposition -- is likely to agree to a total construction ban,” The Washington newspaper stated in its editorial. “By insisting on one, the administration risks bogging it down in a major dispute with its ally, while giving Arab governments and Palestinians a ready excuse not to make their own concessions.”
The paper also declared that Palestinian Authority negotiators have already conceded that large Jewish population centers in the PA will become part of Israel if and when a new PA state is created. No PA leader has made this statement in public, and President Obama’s declaration that “settlements are illegitimate” has strengthened confidence in the Arab world that all of the territorial demands in the 2002 Saudi Arabia Peace Plan will be met.
The Washington Post pointed out that former President Bill Clinton as well George W. Bush recognized the “facts on the ground” of a permanent Jewish presence in such cities as Maaleh Adumim. However, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton specifically said earlier this week that the Obama government does not recognize the personal promise by Bush on Israeli retention of the city as well as other areas.
She called Bush’s letter to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon “unofficial.” Most analysts said the letter may be morally binding on the U.S. but not legally binding.
The Washington Post backed President Obama’s recent statements as “medicine” that had its effect in forcing the Netanyahu government to discuss choosing between good relations with the U.S. or a policy of isolating itself from Washington on behalf of a Jewish presence throughout Judea and Samaria.
However, it agreed that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will not abandon the policy of previous governments for accommodating “natural growth” in existing towns in Judea and Samaria.
The newspaper suggested a compromise by which Prime Minister Netanyahu would accept the idea that the aim of negotiations with the PA is to create a new Arab state. The Israeli government at the same time “should quickly dismantle those [communities] deemed illegal, end all government subsidies, prohibit the territorial expansion of all settlements, stop new construction in those outside Israel's West Bank fence and agree to a monitoring mechanism that will prevent cheating.
“Mr. Obama can reasonably accept that as a freeze, while not requiring that not a single brick be laid in any of the more than 120 West Bank communities,” it reasoned.
The editorial said that following the Israeli actions, President Obama could insist that the PA and Arab states take actions to match Israelis. It did not spell out what actions it meant.
The newspaper also did not note that following President Obama’s Cairo speech, virtually all Arab reaction called on him to pressure Israel to abandon all of Judea and Samaria. The Saudi Arabia foreign minister suggested that the U.S. cut off economic and military aid to Israel if it does not comply with the demands of the 2002 Saudi Peace Plan. †
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