I'm hearing more and more rumbles about a possible effort by the Israeli government to win the release of convicted spy Jonathan Pollard, now in his 25th year in prison.
Contrary to earlier reports, the talk doesn't center on a trade – releasing Pollard in return for an extension of the West Bank settlement moratorium, a major sticking point in the continuation of the recently restarted Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Israel's presence in the Jordan Valley under a peace agreement would be "phased," Israel's U.S. ambassador told an audience of Muslim and Arab Americans.
Michael Oren at a dinner arranged by the Center for Middle East Peace said Wednesday night that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "stated his commitment to continuing a phased Israeli army presence in the Jordan Valley."
"We understand that this may conflict with the search for dignity on the part of the Palestinians. That is why we stress the word phased," he said.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The United States sees as legitimate Israel's demand that Palestinians and other Arab states recognize Israel's Jewish character, a State Department spokesman said.
P.J. Crowley was pressed in a briefing Tuesday about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's offer to extend a partial settlement building freeze in exchange for the Palestinian leadership's recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.
Make no mistake, the wording advocated by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that would require non-Jewish immigrants to express loyalty to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state before receiving citizenship is more about internal political expediency than ideology. Same goes for the prime minister’s proposal to extend the building moratorium in the West Bank in exchange for a public declaration by the Palestinian Authority recognizing “Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people.”
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas says Palestinian statehood is his number one goal, but he apparently doesn't want it bad enough to accept some kind of compromise on a settlement moratorium that will allow talks – the only route to his goal- to continue.
As new poll shows support for continued
settlement building, Israelis guessing about
Netanyahu’s motives and what’s next.
News this week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was seriously considering President Barack Obama’s request for an additional 60-day building freeze in return for several guarantees from the U.S. administration came as a surprise to many Israelis who had considered the West Bank building thaw a done deal.
To some, Netanyahu’s move was all the more surprising given the public’s mood since the freeze ended.