A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
Sept 6, 2009 No Agreement Near on Shalit- Settlement Controversy
After a few days of speculation that an agreement was near for a deal on Gilad Shalit, Halid Meshal, the leader of Hamas stated today that an agreement was far away. The Egyptians and the Germans had hoped that in response to Israel’s proposal Hamas would make some concession, as is normal in negotiations. However, Hamas maintains its line that its starting position is also it closing position, thus compromise is not possible. That also seems to be the case with upholding up any agreement between Hamas and Fatah– Hamas does not really believe in negotiations, as that term is widely understood. Interestingly a book was just published in Israel that claims Rabin turned down a deal in 1987 to return Ron Arad. The deal required the release of 50 terrorist who “had blood on the hands”, a small number compared to what Hamas wants for Shalit.
The second major event of the day is really a non-event, that is causing much diplomatic consternation– and that is the Israeli government’s announcement of it is approval of 400 additional units housing in the territories. Why is this a non event? Since all of these units had already been approved, just not built for some reason or another (usually economics) the Netanyahu government told the Americans, in advance, that as part of its agreement to stop the building it would build these additional buildings before announcing the stoppage. The Americans had expected the building to be kept "low key". Instead, the government made a major announcement surprising both the Americans and the Palestinians. This will hopefully blow over in a few days. Netanyahu has convinced the rest of his government to agree to the freeze, as Israel has no real choice at the moment. Not only is the American government pushing it, but also until recently, Israel could claim the Palestinians were not living up to their responsibilities under the road map. By all accounts, however, now the Palestinians have been seriously fighting terror and imposing civil rule on the west bank.