Negotiations Amidst the Settlement Freeze

(Foreign Policy) Michael Singh - In Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's view, Arab efforts to eliminate Israel began in 1947 and have not truly ebbed since. That those efforts began before Israel took the West Bank and Gaza in 1967, and that rocket fire from southern Lebanon and Gaza continued after Israeli troops withdrew from both territories, are to Netanyahu and many Israelis evidence that the presence of Israeli troops in the West Bank is not the cause of the animosity toward them. It is this interest in defending the continued existence of a Jewish state - that has been under attack since its founding - that leads not only to Netanyahu's insistence that the Palestinians explicitly acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state, but also to his rejection of a settlement freeze. If the Palestinians and Arabs will not do the former, Netanyahu and his allies view the latter as pointless at best and at worst dangerous succor to those who would delegitimize Israel. While many Israelis do not share Netanyahu's position on settlements, they do share his interest in defending Israel's legitimacy, and thus have reacted negatively to what they view as Washington's harsh approach. The writer, a former senior director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council, is a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

2010-10-19 11:33:16

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