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Truckling to Netanyahu, White House removes word ‘settlements’ from a statement

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In its initial statement expressing dismay at Netanyahu’s Gilo landgrab (900 new colonists’ homes), the White House headlined its release yesterday, "Statement by White House House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the Approval of Settlement Expansion in Jerusalem." Subsequently the White House removed the words "the approval of settlement expansion in" from its statement. The two statements are shown below.

Spencer Ackerman was on this before the cock crew, and points out that CNN among other news orgs doesn’t call the E. Jerusalem houses "settlements" because they’re part of annexed Jerusalem. Ackerman portrays this matter as equivocal, a news judgment– when it is the purest expression of political values you can find. The White House made a direct statement initially, and the subsequent statement is symptomatic of the White House’s truckling to colonialists at a time that it might be throwing a bone to the peaceniks. Who’s at the wheel? Rahm? Saban?

Lara Friedman of Peace Now makes the point far better than I can. They’re settlements. Israel wants to forget that they are, she says. But look at her maps. Gilo is at the outskirts of Jerusalem, near a Palestinian village, part of the planned insertion of yet another settlement; and altogether is part of the sealing off of Jerusalem with Jews. Settlements is itself an Orwellian term, as James North always tells me. Settlements suggests some legitimate place that the settlers have. They’re illegitimate. They’re resented by the people who live there. They are colonies.

Steve Walt gets at the power imbalance here, "How Not to Act like a Superpower."

Can you imagine what most neoconservatives would say if the United States acted this way towards any other country? Cries of "appeasement" and "cowardice" would ring from the rafters, and Obama and his team would be dismissed as feckless lightweights who simply weren’t up to the job of serious, hard-nosed diplomacy. For some reason, neocons insist that America show firmness and resolve when dealing with every other country in the world, but they are happy when Uncle Sam rolls over and plays dead whenever there’s a disagreement with Israel.

The statements:


The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release
November 17, 2009

Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Jerusalem

We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem. At a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes.  Our position is clear: the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

 Original statement: 

 

 

 THE WHITE HOUSE

Office of the Press Secretary

__________________________________________________________________________

For Immediate Release                        November 17, 2009

Statement by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on the Approval of Settlement Expansion in Jerusalem

We are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem. At a time when we are working to re-launch negotiations, these actions make it more difficult for our efforts to succeed. Neither party should engage in efforts or take actions that could unilaterally pre-empt, or appear to pre-empt, negotiations. The U.S. also objects to other Israeli practices in Jerusalem related to housing, including the continuing pattern of evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes.  Our position is clear: the status of Jerusalem is a permanent status issue that must be resolved through negotiations between the parties.

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