Truth to Power

George Mitchell Expresses Frustration With Israel’s Lack of Progress in Proximity Talks

In Barack Obama, Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Policy, Human Rights, Iran, Israel, Mideast Peace, News, Politics on June 28, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Now before the usual chorus of “why is the Obama administration only asking anything of Israel!!!” lets remember that for the past year-and-a-half, it’s primarily been Benyamin Netanyahu who has been throwing up successive roadblocks to meaningful negotiations. Lets remember who the parties are, shall we? While the Israel Can Do No Wrong crowd constantly throws around all the problems Israel faces with Hamas, the reality is that Hamas is not at the negotiating table. The Palestinian Authority/Fatah is. And at this point, the PA has shown significant progress in fighting violence and extremism and trying to bolster it’s infrastructure and economy- no small task given Israel essentially makes that near impossible.

From Haaretz:

U.S. envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is frustrated by the conduct of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the proximity talks with the Palestinians. Mitchell, who is due in Israel on Thursday for another round of talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah, has expressed to Netanyahu his wish to see more progress by Israel on core issues.

[snip]

The senior U.S. official also said that the administration would like Netanyahu to show more willingness for substantive discussions on core issues, and to see the Palestinians moving toward direct talks with Israel.

There have been four rounds of proximity talks so far, during which Mitchell shuttled between Ramallah and Jerusalem. During talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu, the two informed the U.S. envoy of their positions on the various core issues. However, the Palestinian side has presented far more detailed positions…

Honestly, George Mitchell has the patience of a saint. I don’t know he does it quite frankly.

Most of his frustration probably stems from the fact that the right-wing Likud coalition has zero interest in anything resembling a peace process, let alone a two state solution. It probably also doesn’t help that every week Mitchell is greeted with new revelations of Israel’s intransigence. The most recent revelation:

The Jerusalem District Planning and Building Committee is set to approve an unprecedented master plan that calls for the expansion of Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, a move largely based on construction on privately owned Arab property.

The committee’s proposal would codify the municipality’s planning policy for the entire city. In essence, Jerusalem would uniformly apply its zoning and construction procedures to both halves of the city.

[snip]

According to a document prepared by Ir Amim, an NGO that “seeks to render Jerusalem a more viable and equitable city,” the master plan vastly underestimates the construction needs of the Arab population in the city. While the plan calls for 13,500 new residential units in East Jerusalem for Palestinians, updated demographic studies indicate that this amount barely represents half the minimum needs for the Arab population by 2030.

Ir Amim officials also said that while the plan allows for Palestinian construction in the north and south of the capital, it barely provides for an expansion of Arab construction projects in the center of the city, particularly in the area next to the holy basin.

The group added that the plan creates a spate of bureaucratic obstacles for Palestinians who wish to build in the city. Ir Amim warns that the plan is likely to be perceived as an Israeli provocation because most of the Jewish building projects are designated for areas east of the Green Line.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat instructed his subordinates to alter the plan in line with his policy of thickening the Jewish presence around the holy basin and the eastern half of the city.

Despite the National Planning and Building Committee’s decision to designate the City of David – which sits in the heart of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan – as “a national park,” the new master plan allows for the construction of residential units in the area.

The Ir David Foundation, a nonprofit group that seeks to increase Jewish settlement in the City of David and whose heads are close associates of the mayor, has in recent years bought houses near the Old City in an effort to “Judaize” the area…

So, Bibi is coming to Washington, D.C. again to meet with President Barack Obama in early July and once again he will demonstrate that the “special relationship” between the U.S. and Israel is a one-way street- the U.S. is to give in to every Israeli demand, scuttle any international attempts at holding Israel accountable for violating international law, give Israel billions of dollars a year because they are so special, fight all Israel’s battles (most recently, our obsessive focus on Iran) give Israel preferential treatment in regards to obtaining lucrative defense contracts, equipment etc. and on and on and on. And what does the administration of President Barack Obama get in return? They get called anti-Israel, Arabist anti-Semites. Oh, and the other requirement is that whenever a public figure says the word “Israel” out loud, they are required to also include the boilerplate statement “we support Israel’s right to defend itself and protect its security interests by whichever means it sees fit…” or something along those lines. Because if they don’t say something along those lines, the AIPAC mobs will start screaming “anti-Israel!” from their perch on the NYT editorial page.

The truly pathetic part of all this? This is how it plays out year after year after year after year….and there is no end in sight.

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