Monday, June 1, 2009

Freezing natural growth in major settlements - not worth the fight (at the moment)

Akiva Eldar argues that this is the wrong time to fall out with the US over settlement growth. Obama has a key trip to the Middle East in the coming weeks and needs to shore up support for action against Iran - Muslim perception of the US will play a role in determining the support he can win:

Does Israel have a greater existential strategic asset than its relations with the U.S. and its neighbors' understanding that these intimate relations are unshakable?

Is this the way to keep "all options open," including receiving American approval to fly over the skies of Iraq, on the way to attacking Iran's nuclear installations? And what will we do when the Iranians launch missiles at Tel Aviv? Will we send the new Abba Eban, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, to Washington to ask Obama to declare war on Tehran? At the same time, the settler from Nokdim can reprimand the president for refusing to take his "natural growth" into account.

I do think that his point is a good one - in the grand scheme of things, at least whilst we still need the US for dealing with Iran, it may be better to put a freeze in place. In the long run however, freezing growth in places like Talpiot, Gilo, Efrat and Ariel - major settlements that don't disrupt Palestinian life - would not be in the israeli interest. As for other settlements, those located in large palestinian population centers and that bring Israel closer to becoming an apartheid state, they should come down and stay down.

No comments: