"Our message is clear: We are planting here, we will stay here, we will build here, this place will be an inseparable part of the State of Israel for eternity," said Netanyahu.
Netanyahu made clear that Israel intends to keep Maale Adumim and Ariel, their two largest West Bank settlements. If I were the Palestinians, I would take that as an offer to eliminate the other settlements. Which of course will not work because the Palestinians are demanding that all settlement building stop entirely. Netanyahu made a seriously disingenuous attempt to stop it for 6 months, but made exception for some, meaning that he didn’t really freeze settlement-building at all.
Netanyahu is in a tough spot- his own settlement leaders are giving him a hard time about the November announcement that settlement building would slow down, but then , while He made the symbolic visit after meeting Obama's envoy George Mitchell, who has been trying to revive talks on Palestinian statehood suspended for the past 13 months.
"Today I heard some interesting ideas for renewing the (peace) process. I also expressed my hope that these new ideas will allow for the renewal of the process. Certainly if the Palestinians express a similar readiness, then we will find ourselves in a diplomatic process," said Netanyahu. Find ourselves in a diplomatic process? You don’t just wake up one day and find yourself in a diplomatic process. It is a set of specific procedural steps that you either take on very intentionally or avoid like the plague. Israel is clearly avoiding it like the plague. As are the Palestinians.
I saw a headline recently that the U.S. would let the two groups find their own way to peace, and I think that may be the best idea they have had in a while. You can’t force two people who hate each other to get along, it doesn’t work that way.
Palestinian President Abbas points to a 2003 peace "road map" requiring that Israel freeze "all settlement activity" and the Palestinian Authority to begin "dismantlement of terrorist capabilities and infrastructure." Even the World Court has ruled that settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal.
Once more we find a situation that sees God and Law clashing- there is an Israeli belief that the West Bank is rightfully Israel’s, believed by some to be a God-given right, and that holds as much, if not more, authority than the World Court.
Messy. And not getting cleaned up anytime soon- The only way this will be resolved is between Israeli and Palestinian authorities- there is little that the U.S. or anyone else from the outside can really do unless they both decide that they want peace rather than squabble and disagreement.
Photo Credit: World Economic Forum (via Flickr under CCL)