Monday, May 25, 2009

What Happened to the Democratic Process?

Obama rejects unwritten deal struck prior to Gaza disengagement which allows for growth in settlements that Israel hopes to keep in any peace deal with Palestinians...Settlement issue complicated by Bush-Sharon agreement

reports Ynet basing itself on this Washington Post item:

...In blunt comments on the Qatar-based news channel al-Jazeera on Tuesday, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said: "We want to see a stop to settlement construction, additions, natural growth -- any kind of settlement activity. That is what the president has called for."

"Natural growth" refers to population expansion as a result of births, adoptions and the like -- a position successive Israeli governments have rejected, though it is an Israeli obligation in the 2003 peace plan known as the "road map." The Bush administration accommodated Israeli concerns with a secret understanding that allowed for growth in settlements that Israel hopes to keep in any peace deal with the Palestinians.

...Netanyahu spokesman Mark Regev said there are no plans for a full settlement freeze. "The issue of settlements is a final status issue, and until there are final status arrangements, it would not be fair to kill normal life inside existing communities," he said.

Regev said the Israeli government is relying on "understandings" between former president George W. Bush and former prime minister Ariel Sharon that some of the larger settlements in the occupied West Bank would ultimately become part of Israel, codified in a letter that Bush gave to Sharon in 2004. In an interview with The Washington Post last year, Sharon aide Dov Weissglas said that in 2005, when Sharon was poised to remove settlers from Gaza, the Bush administration arrived at a secret agreement -- not disclosed to the Palestinians -- that Israel could add homes in settlements it expected to keep, as long as the construction was dictated by market demand, not subsidies.

Elliott Abrams, a former deputy national security adviser who negotiated the arrangement with Weissglas, confirmed the deal in an interview last week. "At the time of the Gaza withdrawal, there were lengthy discussions about how settlement activity might be constrained, and in fact it was constrained in the later part of the Sharon years and the Olmert years in accordance with the ideas that were discussed," he said. "There was something of an understanding realized on these questions, but it was never a written agreement."

Regev said Israeli and U.S. negotiators are discussing the degree to which the terms of the 2004 letter will apply under the new administration, but U.S. officials indicated that Obama wants to move beyond the 2004 letter and hold Israel to its commitments under the road map. "The bottom line is we expect all the parties in the region to honor their commitments, and for the Israelis, that means a stop to settlements, as the president said," a senior administration official said.

We'll continue life, have no fear or apprehension.

Babies, houses, industry, agriculture, education, social welfare.

Jews have returned home. And home means a lot.

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