What would Israel get for halting settlements?

NY Times Editorial:


Under pressure from Washington, Mr. Netanyahu’s government has dangled a possible compromise: a temporary freeze in new construction, as long as 2,500 units now in process can be completed and Arab East Jerusalem is exempt. It is a weak offer.

While they press the Israelis, Mr. Obama and Mr. Mitchell are also asking the Palestinians and Arab states to do more. They are insisting that the Palestinians work harder to prevent incitement against Israel in schools and the media. They have asked Arab states — notably Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Syria — to signal the beginning of an acceptance by allowing Israel to fly commercial planes through Arab airspace or open government commercial offices in their capitals. They are also pressing Arab states to provide more aid for the fragile government of the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

President Obama and Mr. Mitchell claim they are making progress, but so far there is little sign of it. Saudi Arabia, which has pushed Washington hard to revive negotiations, has been especially resistant. Mr. Mitchell would do well to remind them that a prolonged stalemate will only feed extremism across the region.

Israeli leaders do not often risk being at odds with an American president, but polls show broad support for Mr. Netanyahu’s resistance. President Obama, a skilled communicator, has started a constructive dialogue with the Islamic world. Now he needs to explain to Israelis why freezing settlements and reviving peace talks is clearly in their interest.
What the administration is demanding of the Arabs still seems of little value to Israel and the resistance of the Saudis suggest they are not even willing to give that little. But ultimately the real problem in a peace agreement is the Palestinians unwillingness to restrain the terrorist among them.

It is possible they do not have the capacity to restrain them, but whatever the reason without that restraint they have nothing of value to offer Israel. That has been the reason for the failure of these efforts in the past and will be the reason for their failure in the future.

What the administration has done with its emphasis on the settlements is allowed them to become an excuse forthe failure of the Arabs to do nothing. That is not helping the cause of peace they claim to pursue. It allows the Arabs to insist on going back to the 1967 borders which never never recognized before 1967 as if they have some relevance to the current negotiations.

I still do not see much evidence that the Arabs are serious about wanting a peace agreement with Israel. Maybe if they helped rebuild the 2nd Temple that would be a start.


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