POLITICAL observations & opinions

* the Israeli settlements in the West Bank: natural growth or a policy of expansion?

Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 6, 2009

Ethan Bronner writes in today’s NYT (6-6-09) …

Israel showing Gaza & the West Bank

Israel showing Gaza & the West Bank

  • Why is President Obama focusing such attention on the building of homes by Israeli Jews in the West Bank?
  • While every administration has objected to Israeli settlement building in occupied lands, the Obama administration has selected it as the opening issue that could begin to untie the Gordian knot of the conflict.
  • “Obama may have found the soft underbelly of Israel, because ending settlements is a consensus issue in the world, among American Jewry and even among a majority of Israelis,” said Yossi Beilin, a former leftist minister and member of Parliament.

natural growth?

  • The issue of natural growth has surfaced so prominently because while the Israeli government presents it as a simple humane need to make room for expanding families, the data show that settler growth has been enormous in recent years and nearly all of it has been labeled natural growth.

In 2003, Israel and the Palestinians signed the so-called road map for a two-state solution, calling on

  • Israel to freeze all settlements,
  • and on the Palestinians to dismantle terror networks.
  • Neither has done so.

The Israelis say they had unwritten agreements with the Bush administration to continue building, as long as no new settlements were built.

  • Bush officials say that is only partially true.
  • The Obama administration says such winks and nods are over.

It is signaling the Arab world that it is shifting policy. Whether it does so, and how the Netanyahu government responds, will make for high drama in the coming months.

read the entire article at … http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/06/world/middleeast/06mideast.html?hp

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