05 December 09
This analysis ignores the possibility that the choice exercised by Netanyahu with the agreement of Yaalon and Begin is the best short term policy. They are privy to much that we are totally unaware of.
According to David Horovitz, editor of JPOST, The Battle of Wills has begun. He is referring of course to the will of the settlers to resist the freeze and the will of the international community to impose it.
Although Netanyahu was at pains to assure the settlers that after the ten months are over, construction will resume as before. Begin went so far as to emphasize that the amount of construction would return to what it was before Olmert instituted a defacto freeze last summer. But no one is buying it.
- To modify the old Cat Stevens song, the first halt is the hardest. Ten months from now, Iran will likely be a more urgent threat; internal Palestinian rivalries will be still more acute, possibly following Hamas electoral successes; the international community will probably be yet more critical of Israel and still more supportive of unilateral Palestinian moves to statehood; and American pressure for positive Israeli measures will be even more intense. For all Netanyahu’s protestations to the contrary, it is hard to conceive that, 10 months from now, the man who gave us 2009’s West Bank Moratorium would resist 2010’s Moratorium II.
Netanyahu argues that this painful decision was in the “wider national interest”. That’s the rational. But he doesn’t tell us in what way. Perhaps he is referring to international resolve to prevent Iran from getting the bomb. Although Obama is now talking about stronger sanctions in January, that’s a far cry from bombing Iran while there is still time. Or perhaps he is thinking of avoiding the Tools of Persuasion that could be applied.
He also argues that this freeze was necessary to get Abbas to return to negotiations. This doesn’t make sense. He could have said as soon as Abbas returns to negotiations we will institute a 10 month freeze. That would make mores sense but in either case why would Abbas return to negotiations? With the current freeze he could stay away for nine months letting Israel suffer and then return to negotiations with the conditions that so long as negotiations are ongoing, the freeze must continue. In the latter situation he would not return to negotiation that are certain to end in ten months.