Palestinians Exploiting Settlement Freeze Issue

(New York Jewish Week) Joel Lion - When the Palestinians say the resumption of talks requires Israeli action, this is where we disagree. The only action needed by both sides to come to the negotiating table is a short car ride. Both sides have their concerns. Solutions to these concerns can only be made when Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas are in the same room. Israel's settlement freeze was a one-time confidence-building measure to facilitate the Palestinians entering into direct talks. The Palestinians were livid with the freeze, calling it unacceptable. Apparently, the settlement freeze has magically gained importance right when it can be used as a political football. Despite the constant headlines of "settlements as obstacles to peace," history presents a pretty strong rebuttal. Peace was achieved with Egypt and Jordan, and the Oslo Accords were signed with the Palestinians, without a moratorium on settlement construction. We essentially extended the olive branch, and for nine months, rather than grasping it, the Palestinians have sharpened that branch so they can accuse us of pointing a spear at them. If the Palestinians do believe that settlements are the key obstacle to peace, they need to sit with us and discuss what we need to do, together. As our prime minister said, the resolution of any and all issues, whether they are settlements, borders or water, will be decided as a result of peace talks, not imposed as a precondition. Since the 2003 Roadmap Agreement, no new Jewish settlements have been constructed. The narrative that Israelis are engaged in "manifest destiny" on the West Bank is bogus. The writer is consul for media affairs at the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

2010-10-08 09:48:42

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