Thursday, November 25, 2010
The Israeli government has been waiting for some time for a formal written letter from the Obama Administration containing US assurances in exchange for the 90-day 'settlement freeze' extension they want from Israel in order to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
After a great deal of waffling by the Obama Administration over what's actually being promised, Netanyahu formally requested the US proposition in writing before presenting it to his cabinet for a vote.
While rumors that the letter is coming shortly have been prevalent, there's at least one credible report that says the letter isn't coming at all.
It relies on an anonymous 'senior diplomat with inside knowledge of Netanyahu's recent meetings in Washington',which always makes me a bit cautious but it seems plausible and jibes with a few other things I've heard from a couple of my notorious Little Birdies.
According to the diplomatic source, Clinton made a number of commitments when talking to Netanyahu, but later greased out from under them by claiming that she had not been speaking on behalf of President Obama – who, she said in the end, did not give his approval.
The original offer was that the proposed construction freeze would last for three months, and that the US would not demand any further freezes.
However, according to this diplomatic source U.S. leaders have since said that the building freeze for Jews in Judea and Samaria would be open ended and end only if Israel and the 'Palestinians' came to an agreement on the borders of the proposed 'Palestinian' state, something that is likely impossible. I can confirm that one of my own sources within the 'Palestinian' Authority said that there was no way the 'Palestinians' would resume negotiations with a temporary freeze unless the borders of the 'Palestinian' state were guaranteed by the US in advance, including half of Jerusalem.
As speaking of Jerusalem, this particular Little Birdie also told me that unless the freeze included East Jerusalem, there's likewise no deal.This directly contradicts the original US promise to Israel that Jerusalem would be exempted, and in fact according to this report U.S. officials have stated that the construction freeze would apply to all Jews living east of the 1949 armistice line, including in Jerusalem.
If the freeze is not limited to three months and if Jerusalem is not exempted from it, Netanyahu would probably not even present it to his cabinet since there's little on no chance of them approving it. Shas and even most of Netamyahu's fellow Likudniks would not consider voting for it.
Another sticking point is the extra squadron of F-35 fighter jets Israel was supposed to receive in exchange for the freeze. The way things are sorting out, it appears that the `extra' F35 jets are part of a separate package and that Israel will pay for them in full.
This is a retreat even from the initial US offer, which stated that Israel would only receive the extra F-35's if a peace agreement was reached between Israel and the Palestinians.
According to another source of mine, the whole idea of formal written guarantees to Israel in exchange for the freeze has been pulled for now because the 'Palestinians' refused to go along with it and were going to say no anyway. That makes sense,because it was highly unlikely that any deal Netanyahu could get through the Israeli cabinet would be acceptable to the 'Palestinians'
It wouldn't exactly look good for Obama or for the 'Palestinians' if the Obama Administration went to the trouble of getting the Israelis to agree to a deal and then the 'Palestinians' quashed the deal, now would it?