Just in time for his meeting with President Obama this morning, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has flipped the bird to the U.S. A fresh settlement approval by his government showed up in Haaretz today:
Israel moves to green light 2,200 new settlement units, recognizes outposts
Chaim Levinson’s article says that the decision was unusual. Note the presence of the Defense Minister:
Israel’s civilian planning committee for construction in the West Bank moved last week to green light some 2,200 new housing units within existing settlements and retroactively recognize two outposts, most likely in a bid to preempt legal attempts by Palestinians and rights groups to see the sites evacuated. The move is only preliminary and is still subject to changes before the new units break ground.
The Higher Planning Council of the Civil Administration agreed to advance a master plan for the Ma’aleh Michmash area east of Ramallah that will retroactively approve two outposts and add thousands of homes to the settlements in the region. The plan includes the settlements of Ma’aleh Michmash, Rimonim, Kochav Hashahar, Tel Zion and Psagot, and the area south of the settlement of Ofra.
The plan was originally submitted in 2014, and last month Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon gave the green light for the council to discuss it. A hearing was held on October 21 and a decision was reached on November 3 and published on Thursday. Ya’alon’s adviser on settlement issues, Koby Eliraz, attended the council hearing, which is considered unusual.
Even J Street is upset:
Time for the Obama Administration to call these moves what they are: illegal
Shades of the 2010 announcement of 1600 new settlement units just as VP Joe Biden was arriving in Jerusalem. A major dis to the Obama administration, the Biden slap is recounted in a long wan article in the New York Times today that treats the Obama/Netanyahu disagreements as mere personality conflict the U.S. ought to get over. “Obama and Netanyahu: A Story of Slights and Crossed Signals.” The Biden insult? “Mr. Netanyahu assured him it was done without his knowledge.”
National security adviser Susan Rice’s contention that “Mr. Netanyahu did everything but ‘use the N-word’ to describe the president”? That gets explained away by Abe Foxman:
Mr. Foxman interpreted that as hyperbole not an accusation of racism.
Not one Palestinian is quoted in the article, but nine or ten Israelis and American Jewish stalwarts of the Israel lobby, Foxman, Malcolm Hoenlein, Dennis Ross, and Martin Indyk, all applying pressure on Obama to get over his own mistakes and his issues with Netanyahu. The Israel lobby is never addressed as a major force on Obama, because it is also the primary force behind the article itself. As in this tag-team sequence:
At the heart of the trouble, according to Dennis B. Ross, another former American special envoy, was a decision by Mr. Obama that he needed to establish distance from Israel to build credibility in the Arab world…
In an interview last week, Mr. Hoenlein described the Jewish leaders’ meeting with Mr. Obama…
Mr. Ross argues that distancing from Israel has never generated the Arab cooperation that presidents expect.
And there is this criticism of Obama’s avowal of Israel’s legitimacy that was first framed by David Frum and other neoconservatives, and stated angrily by the likes of Michael Oren.
The tension grew when Mr. Obama gave a speech in Cairo reaching out to the Muslim world but did not also visit Israel. While he urged Muslims to recognize Israel’s legitimacy, he seemed to justify it because of the Holocaust rather than centuries of Jewish roots in the region.
The Holocaust was clearly the political catalyst for the United Nations decision to create a Jewish state. The Times could at least have put this biblical criticism in the mouths of Zionists. But no: the Times is the mouthpiece of Zionists.
The Times clearly missed the memo from the Institute for Middle East Understanding offering interviews with many experts, Jewish and even some non-Jews! Mustafa Barghouthi, Yousef Munayyer, Gideon Levy, Diana Buttu, Rebecca Vilkomerson, et al. And some questions the press should ask the PM, including:
It’s clear that you don’t support the two-state solution or the creation of an independent Palestinian state. In fact, you’ve spent much of the past 25 years trying to destroy the two-state solution. What is your vision of the future if you’re not willing to allow Palestinians to have an independent state of their own or to grant them equal rights in a single state, and are you prepared to be known as the man who made permanent Israel’s apartheid rule over the Palestinians?
And while The Times is absolving Netanyahu of racism, Jewish Voice for Peace is reminding us of it. Rabbi Joseph Berman sent out this email on behalf of Jewish Voice for Peace, saying that Netanyahu stands “for war and racism” and:
Having lost over the Iran deal, he wants a consolation prize: billions more in military aid.
Talk about chutzpah! Repression of Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem, and the West Bank is at an all time high, and Netanyahu wants the U.S. to give him even more weapons? Racism is the dominant force in Israeli political discourse, and Netanyahu wants our support to make things even worse?
If you’re as disgusted as I am, click here to call the White House and make your voice heard.
Let President Obama know he shouldn’t give aid to a country that commits collective punishment and violates international law on a daily basis. We’ve got easy-to-use software that will connect you directly to the White House — no dialing required.
Both J Street and JVP note that the left has never gotten a dividend for all its work for Obama on the Iran deal. Berman:
Conflict between President Obama and Netanyahu isn’t necessarily bad. Earlier this year, Netanyahu was the number one opponent of the Iran Deal. He whipped up fear and hatred, and tried to bully President Obama into turning away from diplomacy. But we stood tall, and fought for the deal in Congress – and we won.
Now we need President Obama to stand up to Netanyahu again.
At Tikkun, Rabbi Michael Lerner offers the cynical interpretation of Obama’s making nice with Netanyahu:
So why doesn’t Obama make the ending of the Occupation a condition for delivering these new weapons to Israel? The more cynical answer is that he is concerned to prevent losses to the Democratic Party in the next election that might come from some section of American Jews defecting toward Republicans who would certainly denounce such a demand. Others believe that some Democrats who supported the Iranian nuclear deal only did so once Obama promised these weapons to Israel, and they might join Republicans in undermining the deal should Obama stand up for an end to the Occupation.