Thursday, May 28, 2009

Israel Rebuffs US Call for Total Settlement Freeze

GOOD. It's about time Israel stands up for itself against America and the EU and takes whatever steps it deems necessary for it's survival. When, not if, Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities, the US and EU will have side with and support Israel.


Israel Rebuffs US Call for Total Settlement Freeze

JERUSALEM -- Israel said Thursday it will press ahead with housing construction in West Bank settlements despite a surprisingly blunt U.S. demand that it stop all the building.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday the U.S. wants a halt to all settlement construction _ including "natural growth." She was referring to Israel's insistence that new construction is necessary to accommodate the growth of families already living in existing settlements.
Government spokesman Mark Regev responded to the demand by saying "normal life in those communities must be allowed to continue." He confirmed that this meant some construction will continue in existing settlements.

The new conflict with Washington comes on the day President Barack Obama is meeting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the White House. Abbas has said the Palestinian demand for freezing settlements will be at the top of his agenda in the talks.

The new U.S. administration has been more explicit in its criticism of Israeli settlement policy than its predecessor. But Regev said the fate of existing settlements will be determined in peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The U.S. and much of the world consider the settlements an obstacle to peace because they are built on land the Palestinians claim for a future state. More than 280,000 Jewish settlers live among more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank.

Regev said Israel has pledged to build no new settlements and to remove unauthorized Jewish outposts in the West Bank.
Israel and the U.S. each have new leaders with strikingly different approaches to Israeli-Palestinian relations. Netanyahu refuses to endorse Palestinian independence, a notion supported by Obama, his predecessor and the previous Israeli government.

Clinton said Obama told Netanyahu last week when the two met at the White House that the U.S. sees stopping settlements as key to a peace deal that would see a Palestinian state created alongside Israel.
"He wants to see a stop to settlements _ not some settlements, not outposts, not 'natural growth' exceptions," Clinton said. "We think it is in the best interests (of the peace process) that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly. ... And we intend to press that point."