Sunday, September 26, 2010

July 15th

The scene was both pathetic and outrageous. The last of Netanyahu's devoted followers, who believe he is the man who will bring peace, would have immediately changed their minds. Presidents Barack Obama and Shimon Peres, who continue to maintain that Netanyahu will bring peace, would be talking differently had they seen this secretly filmed video clip. Even the objection of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to conducting direct negotiations with the man from the video would be understandable. What is there to discuss with a huckster whose sole purpose is "to give 2 percent in order to prevent 100 percent," as his father told him, quoting his grandfather.
September 26
Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be the winner of the construction-freeze crisis: The 10-month suspension of building in the settlements will not be extended and the prime minister has given up nothing. Peace talks with the Palestinians will continue, the coalition is as strong as ever, and the government enjoys some freedom of movement regarding the settlers and the U.S. administration.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, his threats to the contrary, will not scuttle the peace talks that have barely begun just because Netanyahu isn't extending the freeze. U.S. President Barack Obama, preaching for the moratorium to continue, can't force it on Netanyahu on the eve of the congressional elections when his party's leaders are calling for negotiations to continue without regard to the settlements.
Abbas gives up, Natanyahu gets what he wants and the Palestinians are blamed for any violence that results, because Israel is a "nation" and nations have "laws" and their opposition is a group of people without title. One more time:
Imagine a beach and a small group of people sitting on blankets having lunch. Another group comes onto the beach a few feet away and sets up a volleyball net between themselves and the first group. They start lobbing volleyballs over the net that all go unreturned. When the count of unreturned balls reaches 25 the second group declares the game over and themselves the winners. Another group arrives, friends of the second and wanting "their turn." They tell the first group to move so that they can play. A rule book is consulted and it is decided that the first group lost their game and have no right to occupy the "volleyball court". The police are called and they are removed by force.
And building never stopped
In the third quarter of 2009, before the restrictions were imposed last November, there were 2,790 settlement homes in various stages of construction, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics. The number rose to 2,955 in the last quarter of 2009, reflecting a last-minute surge of housing starts in the days leading up to the freeze.
In the first quarter of 2010, with the freeze in full effect, the number stood at 2,517.
That means that even months into the halt, the number of homes under construction had declined by only about 10 percent.

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