New deal on moratorium: This administration’s worst move yet?

Posted: November 13th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, The Settlements, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , | 7 Comments »

With the new deal, the US might have given up all leverage over Jerusalem for the next two years, agreed to construction in Jerusalem (and ultimately, the rest of the West Bank), and seems to get nothing in return

Like that women in a townhall meeting before the midterms, I am exhausted of defending President Barack Obama. As if the last year wasn’t bad enough, the new deal Netanyahu was offered in exchange for a limited-Jerusalem-excluded-90-days-only moratorium, seems like the administration’s worst move ever.

Netanyahu apparently reached an understanding with Washington that the building freeze would not apply to Jerusalem, and that no further moratorium would be sought following the 90-day period.


In exchange for a freeze extension, the US would object to international attempts to force a diplomatic agreement on Israel in the UN and in other global forums, while utilizing the American veto power in the UN Security Council.

According to the proposal, the US would also boost its resistance to the de-legitimization campaign against Israel and to attempts by Arab states to deprive Israel’s right to self-defense [what's that? key words for Goldstone? for the Nuclear program?].

Moreover, the US Administration would ask Congress to approve the sale of another 20 advanced fighter jets to Israel worth some $3 billion. This would supplement a comprehensive future Israeli-American security agreement, to be signed alongside a peace deal, in the aims of addressing Israel’s security needs in any future treaty.

The F-35 Jets deal is not the big news here. Sooner or later, the US would have sold the plans to Israel, if only to help Lockheed Martin, who seems to be having troubles selling its new toys to the rest of the world.

The diplomatic assurances are much more troubling. By promising an automatic veto against any international move or any unilateral attempt by the Palestinians do declare independence, the Administration gave up any leverage over Jerusalem in 2011. And since 2012 is elections year, one can say that Netanyahu got a Carte Blanch from Obama and Clinton for the rest of his term.

Furthermore, the administration promised not to demand any more moratoriums, and to exclude Jerusalem from the current one. In other words, the White House agreed not to oppose construction in the settlements starting from January 2011, and to accept all construction in East Jerusalem right now. This is, by itself, a terrible move.

What did the Americans get in return? And what did the Palestinians get? apparently, nothing. The negotiations might resume, but it’s hard to believe that any breakthrough will be reached in the next couple of months. The two sides are simply too far from each other on every key issue. My guess: the Palestinians would end up abandoning the talks or refusing some “generous offer” by Netanyahu. Once more they will be accused of missing their best opportunities. Camp David 2000, all over again.

Nothing is certain, of course. The administration might have gotten some backroom promises from Nettanyahu regarding the upcoming talks. The Israeli Right can try to oppose the new moratorium. In the longer run, the Palestinians could always shut down the PA and put Israel in an impossible position (many people think this could be their best move). But in all these developments, the administration will depend on others. Unless team Obama has a diplomatic plan it wants to impose on both sides, it seems that the White House has played its hand – and lost.

7 Comments on “New deal on moratorium: This administration’s worst move yet?”

  1. 1 maayan said at 1:32 am on November 14th, 2010:

    Another viewpoint: the US offered nothing new at all, and actually made standard US support of Israel into a negotiable commodity. In return, they get Bibi to jeopardize his chances at re-election.

  2. 2 David said at 4:52 am on November 14th, 2010:

    Then I have a suggestion: stop trying to defend the indefensible Mr. Obama. Beautiful rhetoric can occasionally be inspiring, but two years of backing away from everything he said he’d put on his agenda has exhausted his political capital. He has no credit at my bank.

  3. 3 Tom Mitchell said at 7:59 am on November 14th, 2010:

    I don’t understand what you are getting so excited about. It’s not like the peace process was going to amount to anything anyways in the short term–not with Abbas worried about Hamas’ reaction to any concession he would make (not to mention the reaction from the Al-Aksa Brigades) and the Israeli center-left unable to form a viable alternative coalition. Maybe it’s the Americanization of Israeli politics–you’ve become focused on personalities to the detriment of looking at the basic mechanics of the situation.

    The only real drawback is that Obama has now committed the U.S. to opposing a unilateral declaration of statehood by the Palestinians. Such a declaration seems to offer the only real opportunity for the Palestinians to negotiate with Israel without dragging the refugees into the equation, thus dooming the talks.

  4. 4 joan said at 8:30 am on November 14th, 2010:

    extraordinary, i agree. but if it is any consolation obama’s wimpishness is replicated in just about every other arena, domestic and foreign. if anyone ever deserved be a one term president it is he.

  5. 5 noam said at 5:52 pm on November 14th, 2010:


    The first problem with this policy is that it is a de-facto acceptance of the settlements (once the moratorium ends).

    The second problem is the trap ahead: Now Abbas will be cornered, and forced to negotiate with a partner who won’t even talk about borders. and then what?

    Third, the deal gets the pressure of Jerusalem, and that, I think, is the key to moving forward in the process.

  6. 6 Daniel Blatter said at 9:33 pm on November 14th, 2010:

    why doesn’t the US just draw a line at no further settlements until an agreement between Israel and the PA is reached? This constant willingness on the part of the Obama Administration to shift its preconditions to negotiations makes it far too easy for Israel to escape responsibility for the stalled talks. Until the US makes it clear that support for Israel is contingent on certain behavior, the future of the peace process appears bleak indeed

  7. 7 mike said at 7:24 pm on November 15th, 2010:

    What are these people in washington thinking. We are borrowing to run this country and we can give away three billion worth of fighter jets. Talk about make work projects, there are no buyers for lockheeds jets, so now we have to give them away.Someone should check the air quality in the capital, it definitely causes brain deteration