A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
November 25, 2009 Netanyahu Announces Settlement Freeze, Shalit Deal On Hold
Prime Minister Netanyahu made a dramatic announcement today and stated that the Israeli government officially agreed to freeze all residential construction in the West Bank for ten months. This is the first time an Israeli government has agreed to this. By watching Netanyahu in his announcement, one could see from his body language that this was something that he was reluctantly agreeing to, without enthusiasm. The only member of the cabinet to vote against the decision was Uzi Landau, with the Shas ministers leaving the room at the time of the vote. Benny Begin and Bogi Yaalon both voted in favor. According to reports, their agreement resulted from the close consultation that Netanyahu had with the two. They apparently decided that for the sake of the Israel’s relationship with the American government this was a needed step.
The American government has welcomed the plan by stating, "Today’s announcement by the Government of Israel helps move forward toward resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We believe that through good-faith negotiations the parties can mutually agree on an outcome which ends the conflict and reconciles the Palestinian goal of an independent and viable state based on the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps, and the Israeli goal of a Jewish state with secure and recognized borders that reflect subsequent developments and meet Israeli security requirements. Let me say to all the people of the region and world: our commitment to achieving a solution with two states living side by side in peace and security is unwavering".
Unfortunately, the Palestinians have responded with their near pavlovian response. They said that it is not enough, since Netanyahu would not announce a freeze in Jerusalem, something that has effectively been happening for the last 6 months. The end result of these actions seems to be a political win for Netanyahu, who both proved that he is strong and was able to get a difficult decision through his government, one that no left leaning Israeli government would ever dare do. It also moves his position much closer to that of the Obama administration. Thus, Israel will probably no longer be considered the road block to moving any American plan forward; rather it will clearly be the Palestinians.
The rumors of an almost immediate agreement on Gilad Shalit seem to have been misplaced. Hamas has officially declared that talks will be put off until next week. It seems that the leadership of Hamas in Damascus refuses to agree to any change in the list that was first presented. That leadership receives its instruction from some combination of Iran and Syria; neither have ever really had the interest of the Palestinians in Gaza at heart, rather their own strategic interests. It is unclear, however, if they want to destroy the negotiations or just slow them down and try to get better terms.
A survey of the Israeli public shows that 83% of Israeli supports the deal as it has been more or less outlined. When ask if they would support a deal that had the release of “heavy” terrorists, 56% said yes and 33% said no.
There were two interesting articles in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. One is a lengthy review of Start-Up Nation Where Tech Keeps Booming and the other The Carter Richochet Effect