Sunday, September 06, 2009

EU Backs Obama's Position on Settlement Freeze.

I spoke yesterday about the reaction of the Obama administration to the news that Netanyahu intended to build hundreds of new homes in the occupied territories, despite Obama's call for a freeze on all settlement activity.

In today's Ha'aretz newspaper, they are carrying reaction - as seen in Israel - from the rest of the EU.

Netanyahu's announcement late last week that he intends to approve the construction of hundreds of new housing units in the settlements before the suspension of building takes effect has drawn criticism from the international community.

European Union foreign ministers, meeting in Stockholm on Friday, criticized the decision in a statement by Javier Solana, the outgoing EU foreign policy chief.

"The position of the European Union is well known. All settlement activities must stop," Solana was quoted as saying.

British Foreign Minister David Milliband seconded Solana, describing the settlements as "illegal" and as "posing an obstacle to the peace process."

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini, a well-known supporter of Israel in the EU, said that EU foreign ministers are in agreement on the issue.

"The foreign ministers of the European Union condemn the announcement on new construction in settlements right when the international community is asking Israel to freeze [construction]," Frattini said. "Ending construction was essentially the sole precondition for restarting the negotiations."

France also condemned Netanyahu's decision, saying that it went against Middle East peace efforts.
It's hard to imagine anyway in which Netanyahu could be more isolated than he is now. Europe is 100% behind Obama's demand that Israel cease all settlement activity, with even the pro-Israel Italian Foreign Minister declining to support Netanyahu's position.

As I said yesterday, this is not a time - as some are claiming - for Obama to scale back his demands and grant Israel the right to build these settlements in the hope of getting them around the table further down the line.

This is the time to press home to Israel the fact that she is utterly isolated. There is almost no-one in the international community who agrees with the position which Netanyahu has taken.

As I said yesterday, Obama has the option of stopping the billions of dollars in aid which the US gives to Israel every year if Netanyahu continues to treat him with such contempt. But that's not the greatest - or the most dangerous - card Obama has in his box.

If he really wants to give Netanyahu a fright and bring home to him just how out of step he is with the entire international community, Obama simply has to make it known to the Knesset that the US will no longer be using it's veto on issues relating to Israel and Palestine at the UN.

If anything would bring Netanyahu back into line it would be that. The thought that the international community would be allowed to vote on matters relating to the Middle East, knowing that no American veto existed, would terrify Netanyahu.

And he'd be right to be terrified. Because we all know that without the American veto the international community would have dragged Israel back into line years ago.

So, as I say, Obama is the one holding all the cards here, not Netanyahu. The only real question is whether or not he has the courage to play them.

Click title for full article.


Anonymous said...

" A powerful bloc in Washington and the media facilitates our Israel policy, but our Israel policy does not reflect the wishes of the vast majority of Americans in any meaningful way"

This needs repeating on every political platform - both Republican and Democrat, in every State, in every church and religious gathering, in all union meetings and town halls and in every home up and down America, every week.
AIPAC and the entire Israel lobby work, not for the good of America but to maintain their extensive influence within the legislature in order to fulfill their specific agenda.

That agenda is detrimental to American democracy as it works for the advancement of a foreign state and not for the welfare and good of Americans and America.

Kel said...

I couldn't agree more. The difficulty is the way American politicians are funded by AIPAC into never speaking out in any way which could be seen as detrimental to Israel's interests.

And they will continue to do so, even as Netanyahu treats an American president with open disdain. Indeed, it's only a matter of time before they turn on Obama over this.

They'll demand to know why he is being "so tough" on Israel.