BiBi, Clinton Reach Settlement Deal, But Israeli Cabinet May Nix It

November 14, 2010

(ChattahBox World News)— The marathon diplomatic meeting on Thursday, between Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was apparently productive after all. Netanyahu agreed to present a 90-day settlement freeze on construction in the West Bank to his divisive cabinet, in exchange for support in the United Nations Security Council and fighter jets. The deal is a last-ditch effort by the Obama administration to salvage a peace deal with the Palestinians, who refuse to negotiate as long as Jewish homes are being built in disputed territories. Will BiBi be successful in selling the deal to his shaky coalition of mostly right-wing lawmakers? It’s going to be a tough sell.

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu completed his U.S victory tour, of sorts, after Republicans regained control of the House, it was thought there was little chance of progress in the stalled Mideast peace talks. After all, BiBi chose to meet with Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA), before his scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. And Cantor bragged after the “unusual” meeting that, he along with the GOP, were prepared to undermine the Obama administration’s foreign policy, on Netanyahu’s behalf.

And on the eve of his U.S. trip, over 1,000 new settlements were announced in the annexed territory of East East Jerusalem. When the settlements were condemned by the Obama administration as unhelpful to the peace talks, BiBi shot back, saying “Jerusalem is the capital of the State of Israel.”

But the over seven-hour meeting with Clinton in New York City proved to be fruitful.

The New York Times writes:

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel has agreed to push his cabinet to freeze most construction on settlements in the West Bank for 90 days to break an impasse in peace negotiations with the Palestinians, an official briefed on talks between the United States and Israel said Saturday evening.”

“In return, the Obama administration has offered Israel a package of security incentives and fighter jets worth $3 billion that would be contingent on the signing of a peace agreement, the official said. The United States would also block any moves in the United Nations Security Council that would try to shape a final peace agreement.”

There are some caveats to the deal. The freeze is a one-time, nonrenewable concession that does not cover East Jerusalem. And the settlement moratorium would not cover construction of public buildings, just residential housing.

The Obama administration hopes to ink a peace deal with the Palestinians during the 90-day freeze that would determine the boundaries of a Palestinian state.

“The logic behind a 90-day extension is that the two sides would aim for a swift agreement on the borders of a Palestinian state. That would make the long dispute over settlements irrelevant since it would be clear which housing blocks fell into Israel and which fell into a Palestinian state.”

But this will all just be a pipe dream, if Netanyahu cannot convince his cabinet to agree to the terms of the deal ironed out with Clinton.

BiBi held an unusual Saturday evening meeting with his cabinet to present the deal. But no action has been taken, as yet, on the proposal.

Photo Source: White House Flickr


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