Obama Gives Up on Settlement Freeze Talks With BiBi
December 8, 2010
(ChattahBox World News)—After a marathon meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last month, to convince him to present a temporary settlement freeze to his cabinet in exchange for a package of security sweeteners, including fighter jets, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the White House have given up, after Netanyahu was unable to sell the deal. The stalled direct peace talks between the Palestinians and Israel are now dead in the water, as the Palestinians refuse to negotiate as long as Israeli settlement construction continues in disputed territories.
The White House is trying to sell this latest diplomatic Middle East setback, by saying the administration decided to focus more on the end game, rather than becoming bogged down in settlement talks. Still, where to go from here is unclear. State Department officials are avoiding the use of the words direct and even, proximity talks going forward.
“The administration decided to pull the plug, officials said, because it concluded that even if Mr. Netanyahu persuaded his cabinet to accept a freeze — which he had not yet been able to do — the 90-day negotiating period would not have produced the progress on core issues that the United States originally had sought.”
“We made a strong effort, and everyone tried in good faith to resume direct negotiations in a way that would be meaningful and sustainable,” said a senior American official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the administration’s internal deliberations, which are continuing. “But the extension wasn’t actually going to do that.”
The Politico reports on some additional quotes from White House officials on the failure of Netanyahu to convince his largely right-wing coalition to agree to the settlement freeze.
“We are still going to continue our engagement with both sides on the core issues and we continue to work towards the goal of a framework agreement,” the official said.
“We hope, obviously, to get the parties to direct talks, but in the meantime, we will continue our engagement with both sides,” the official said, declining to use the word “proximity” in reference to the talks. “We are not changing course. We are still very much committed” to getting a framework agreement.
What such a framework would entail and how it would be accomplished, is still largely up in the air.
And as The New York Times points out, even if BiBi had succeeded in securing a settlement freeze, there still was no guarantee that the Palestinians would return to the negotiating table. The proposed freeze only covered construction in the West Bank, but the Palestinians were demanding that construction also come to a halt in East Jerusalem.