Previous U.S. presidents offered “regrets” for Israeli actions so many times the phrase entered the Middle East diplomatic playbook as a signal to Israel: “Build, baby, build”.
A close reading of Spokesman Robert Gibbs’ response to Israel’s decision to start construction on 455 additional housing units in the West Bank suggests this White House follows its “regrets” with sterner language.
In his White House statement Gibbs said:
We regret the reports of Israel’s plans to approve additional settlement construction. Continued settlement activity is inconsistent with Israel’s commitment under the Roadmap.
As the President has said before, the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement expansion and we urge that it stop. We are working to create a climate in which negotiations can take place, and such actions make it harder to create such a climate.
The Israeli statement (which comes from the Defense ministry, not the Housing ministry) is precise as to the housing units in specific settlements.
Translation: “President Obama, you can demand all the freezing you like, but this is an Israeli “security” decision. It has long been on our planning board, down to construction in the individual settlements in Fortress Israel which we have no intention of ever giving up.”
In the Jerusalem Post story, the Defense Ministry makes the Israeli settlements sound like military units, adding strength for future warfare, describing the West Bank as “Judea and Samaria”, names from Israel’s ancient warrior king past.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak approved on Sunday evening the construction of 455 new housing units in Judea and Samaria settlements, a Defense Ministry statement confirmed on Monday morning.
The Gush Etzion settlement of Har Gilo, which is just south of Jerusalem, will receive a major boost to its population with 149 units winning the ministry’s approval.
Ma’aleh Adumim received a boost of 89 new units. The haredi city of Modi’in Illit will see an additional 84 units, the Agan Ha’ayalot neighborhood of Givat Ze’ev is to grow by 76 units, and the small settlement Kedar, which is near Ma’aleh Adumim, has received Barak’s okay for 25 new units.
The defense minister also approved 20 units in Maskiot in the Jordan Valley, and 12 additional units in the veteran Gush Etzion settlement Alon Shvut.
Bibi Netanyahu has his units in place as he gears for his fight with the new American president. Working very much in Bibi’s favor is the pending defeat of Obama’s health care bill. A weakened American president is Bibi’s preferred opponent.
In his confrontation with Obama, Netanyahu will rely on additional backing from his right wing American political allies, supportive units growing in their own arrogance, trained and funded by the Israel Lobby.
What keeps those U.S. units in fighting strength in the battle against the American president? Training trips to Israel, of course.
Philip Giraldi reports in a September 3 posting on the Anti-War site, that 13% of the U.S. House of Representatives spent part of their summer recess in Israel, all expenses paid by AIPAC:
It turns out they were not hosting town hall meetings or listening to constituents because many of them were in Israel together with their spouses on a trip paid for by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).
Fully 13% of the entire US House of Representatives, 56 members, traveled to Israel in the largest AIPAC-sponsored fact-finding visit by American politicians ever conducted.
And the leaders of the two congressional groups, 25 Republicans for a week starting on August 2nd followed by 31
House Minority whip Eric Cantor headed the Republican group and House Majority leader Steny Hoyer (pictured at left above) led the Democrats.
All those supportive warriors from the U.S. Congress bolstered Bibi and his Defense Minister in their “build baby, build” fight with the President of the United States.
The presence of such a large army on Israeli soil from the U.S. Congress, provide Bibi and Ehud with false hope. Signs are emerging that “truth crushed to earth” is rising again.
Signs, for example, like the column in the Washington Post, September 6, which former President Jimmy Carter wrote after he returned from a trip he made to Israel and Palestine.
I bash the Washington Post op-ed page all the time. Well today they do an important service, publishing the great Jimmy Carter, summing up his four recent trips to the Middle East, the last as a member of the “Elders,” a group of statesmen who are trying to calm the waters.
In this piece, Carter acknowledges a reality that Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel and progressive Zionists too are resisting, but that Netanyahu/Sharon/Olmert/Barak have established, a single state between the river and the sea and, yes, a struggle for democracy and an end to the dream of a Jewish state.
Is Israel ready to deal with the long range implications of the One State Solution?
A Palestinian population rapidly approaching equality in numbers with Israeli Jewish citizens will not accept second-class status in a One State of Israel.
Traveling with Jimmy Carter on his trip with the Elders, Bishop Desmond Tutu was a living testimony that a democratic State can only succeed if all its citizens receive equal treatment.
Tutu’s presence on the Elders trip was also a vivid reminder that a world economic boycott and divestment campaign does work. Even Bibi and Ehud know what happened to the white minority South African government.
The anger the word “apartheid” stirs in right wing U.S. and Israeli circles testifies to nothing less than fear of the truth.
Another encouraging sign is the program Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad (pictured above) has developed, a lengthy document describing a future Palestinian state alongside Israel, with borders along the 1967 Green Line.
In his Post column, President Carter referred to the Fayyad program. Javier Solana, secretary general of the Council of the European Union, for the United Nations is a strong supporter of the two-state solution:
. . . Solana proposes that the United Nations recognize the pre-1967 border between Israel and Palestine, and deal with the fate of Palestinian refugees and how Jerusalem would be shared.
Palestine would become a full U.N. member and enjoy diplomatic relations with other nations, many of which would be eager to respond. Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad described to us [the Elders traveling with Carter] his unilateral plan for Palestine to become an independent state.
Fayyad’s program was published under the optimistic title, “Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State.” It was described in the Huffington Post by Palestinian Journalist Daoud Kuttub, as “brilliant”: