May 29, 2009
The Guardian

Obama: Halt to New Israeli Settlements is in America's Security Interests

by Chris McGreal and Rory McCarthy

Increasingly fractious relations between the US and Israel hit a low unseen in nearly two decades yesterday after the Jewish state rejected President Obama's demand for an end to settlement construction in the West Bank, and the president responded by suggesting that Israeli intransigence endangers America's security.

The dispute, which blew in during the open hours before Obama met the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, reflects the depth of the shift in US policy away from accommodating Israel, and towards pressuring it to end years of stalling negotiations over the creation of a Palestinian state as it continues to grab land in the occupied territories.

Obama put down a marker at a difficult meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in Washington last week when he demanded a halt to the expansion of settlements, which now house close to 500,000 in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, as they are a major obstacle to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Yesterday the Israeli government spokesman, Mark Regev, said Netanyahu will defy the White House call by continuing construction in existing settlements. . . .


Rory McCarthy, "Palestinians Lose Faith in Two-State Solution," Guardian, September 4, 2008

"PA official: Abbas expects US pressure to push out Netanyahu," Jerusalem Post, May 29, 2009

[Barack Obama has sent Benjamin Netanyahu the message he most seeks, whether Netanyahu recognizes it or not: continue your colonial-settler project as you have been doing; just change the vocabulary you use to describe it.--Jennifer Loewenstein, "How Much Really Separates Obama and Netanyahu?,", June 5, 2009]

[But the fact that there is any debate at all on this issue in Congress marks a sea change in Washington--Ira Chernus, "AIPAC Wall Beginning to Crack,", June 9, 2009]

[In 2003, the Israeli government accepted, with some reservations, the "road map" for peace, which imposed two requirements on Israel regarding settlements: "GOI [Government of Israel] immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001. Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)."--Daniel Kurtzer, "The Settlements Facts," Washington Post, June 14, 2009]

[On Netanyahu's part, there are plenty of preconditions, every one of which is designed to make certain that no Palestinian, no Arab and indeed no Muslim will agree to enter negotiations.--Uri Avnery, "The Case of Netanyahu and the Curious Incident,", June 18, 2009]

[ . . . perhaps the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control should intervene. . . . Thirty years ago, a U.S. State Department legal adviser issued an opinion that called the settlements "inconsistent" with the Fourth Geneva Convention.--Ronit Avni, "Want to Stop Israeli Settlements? Follow the Dollars," Washington Post, June 25, 2009]

[Extremists broke into the mosque in the village of Yasuf, near the city of Nablus, and burned Korans and copies of the Hadith, or sayings of the Prophet Muhammad--James Hider, "Settlers attack West Bank mosque and burn holy Muslim books," Times Online, December 11, 2009]

[The US stood alone among the 15 members of the security council in failing to condemn the resumption of settlement building that has caused a serious rift between the Israeli government and the Palestinian authority and derailed attempts to kick-start the peace process.--Ed Pilkington, "US vetoes UN condemnation of Israeli settlements," Guardian, February 19, 2011]

Alan Hart, "The Veto and the Case for Impeaching President Obama," ICH, February 21, 2011

[Russia's U.N. Ambassador . . . Churkin, the current council president, said the frustration over the impasse in Israeli-Palestinian talks spilled out in statements from the four European Union council members, the Nonaligned Movement, the Arab group, and the group of emerging powers that includes India, Brazil and South Africa.--"UN members point finger at US for refusing to condemn Israeli settlement building,", December 20, 2011]

back button