07 June 2009

The elusive issue of settlements and pols' honesty

To start with: I am not necessarily carrying a torch for all Israeli settlers, but there is a long a complicated history of the whole settlement issue, there are different ways to resolve the problem, not inevitably by removing all of the settlements, and anyway this is beyond the scope of this post. What is in the scope of the post is the brewing US - Israel scandal re continuation of the building in the existing settlements. The demand that this activity be stopped was broadly reiterated by Obama in his Cairo speech, without going into details of the thorny question.

Various Israeli pols insist that there was an understanding with the previous administration about permissibility to continue building in the existing settlements in their existing borders to allow for the natural growth of the population. On the US side, the current State Department chief claims the she is not aware of such understanding.

There is no memorialization of any informal or oral agreement" concerning the settlements, she said.
This statement is a step "forward" from the previous attempts to avoid the issue by Clinton's spokesperson Robert Wood. The usual pathetic attempts of a spokesperson to crawl away from a direct question are presented in Ami Isseroff's post Obama: Honesty with Israel is the best policy - Go for it! (the post title is self-explanatory, I hope). So now we have a direct statement from her majestic self that flatly denies the above mentioned understanding. Strange.

Because in the last two days I happened to listen (carefully, too) at least three times to the detailed explanation given in three different interviews by Dov Weissglass, ex-PM office manager during Sharons' time. He flatly stated that indeed there is an understanding about continuing building - in the existing borders of the existing settlements. The understanding also called for detailed mapping of such borders and for creation of a commission that will deal with the logistics of the process. The mapping committee wasn't created for technical reasons Mr Weissglass didn't have time to go into, but the understanding is a part of the roadmap negotiations protocol.

So someone is lying, and I am sure it's not Mr Weissglass. Protocols are there to be seen by relevant parties, after all, and a lawyer of Weisglass standing wouldn't resort to a lie so cheap and easily refutable. He is not a politician, after all.

However (is there something in our area without a good hearty "however", I wonder), Dov Weissglass has clarified clearly and unequivocally another side of the issue, which is quite a thorn in Bibi's side. The above mentioned understanding is a part of the roadmap paperwork, as it is already mentioned. Obviously, Bibi can't stand on one point of the protocol (building in the settlements) without accepting the rest of the roadmap conditions - one of which is acceptance of the two state solution. So Bibi has a bit of a conundrum to resolve here.

That's it in a nutshell. More to follow, probably, in the next few days.

There still remain two interesting questions:
  1. Why should Ms Clinton resort to a barefaced lie, made only more barefaced by the contortions of her employee?
  2. Why should the issue of resolving the natural growth problem become central to the whole Middle East peace process, when really crucial questions, such as status of Jerusalem, the "Right of Return", Iranian nukes etc. are pushed aside?
Curiosier and curiosier...

Cross-posted on Yourish.com