Thursday, March 28, 2013

Mentioned in Passing


Settlements, not solutions, top agenda for new Israeli government

With pro-settler and right-wing parties holding key ministry posts in the new Israeli government, the two-state solution President Obama praised last week may only grow more distant.

By Joshua Mitnick, Correspondent / March 24, 2013


As a result of the strong electoral showing by the nationalist Jewish Home party, which earned it a place in the governing coalition, key ministries and other government positions will be held by settlers and their allies, who are determined to make the Israeli presence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem irreversible.

"This is the opposite of a dream team, in every important intersection of authority," says Danny Siedemann, a Jerusalem lawyer and peace activist who monitors Israeli building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. "All of these people are predisposed to an unprecedented settlement surge, in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. All of them are hostile to the two-state solution."

I guess we have different dreams.


But Uri Ariel, the new housing minister from Jewish Home, is likely to bring those projects – and many more – back on the agenda...In an interview with the pro-settler weekly Eretz Yisrael Shelanu (Our Land Israel), he invoked the Messianic theology of the religious settler movement, saying his appointment marks "another stage on the path to redemption."
He also cited his career of advancing building "in all parts of our holy land." "With God’s help, I will continue on this path," he told the newspaper.

...Ariel is a "man who gets things done," says Gil Hoffman, the political reporter for The Jerusalem Post. That said, Mr. Hoffman insists that Ariel is a pragmatist and will seek to maintain the pace of building under previous governments rather than a provocative building surge.

And me:-

The US is hoping that Obama's positive first trip will reinvigorate peace efforts, though most settlers are not worried. They see the composition of the new Israeli cabinet as a reassurance that Israeli policy will move away from peace negotiations. Yisrael Meidad Medad a resident of the settlement of Shilo, says the new government could normalize Israeli perceptions of the setters; many nonsettler Israelis are generally not enthusiastic about the settlements and believe that many should be returned to the Palestinians for peace. If attitudes changed, Israel could be headed toward a starkly different vision than that laid out by Obama.

"[The new government] might bring us in from the cold," Mr. Meidad Medad says. "We’ve graduated from being cautiously optimistic to looking forward to its ability to consolidate what I think is the latent willingness of Israel’s population to be comfortable with right-wing or nationalist Zionism."

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