07 May, 2014

The Bitter Truth about the Settlements

The Bitter Truth about the Settlements: It’s not just people in Israel who shouldn’t ignore this bitter truth; it’s people in America, and particularly in Washington, where there’s an entire industry dedicated to casting the Palestinians as eternal rejectionists and downplaying the impact of the settlements and occupation that sustain them. Basically, these officials are telling us more explicitly what both Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama have told us more diplomatically: Netanyahu’s unwillingness and/or inability to reign in the settlements poisoned the negotiations, and is killing any chance of a final, two-state agreement.

To be clear, the settlements are not the only obstacle to a final agreement. And the Palestinians undoubtedly made some questionable choices during these negotiations, too. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blindsided both the Americans and the Israelis with a reconciliation agreement with Hamas two weeks ago, surprise being the enemy of trust in these kinds of negotiations. But the U.S. officials listed a number of important concessions made by Abbas, none of which were matched by Netanyahu. And the reconciliation with Hamas came after it became clear to Abbas that Netanyahu was not interested in negotiating in good faith.