I had a call today from a pro-peace process activist who expressed cautious excitement about what he termed “new hope for progress” on the Israeli-Syrian front (see this week's Jewish Week editorial here).
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Israel was prepared to extend a West Bank construction freeze, but the United States withdrew the idea, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
"The United States asked us to consider extending the freeze by three months, and the truth is that we were prepared to do so," Netanyahu reportedly told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Monday.
(JTA) -- United States military aid to Israel for fiscal year 2011 has been delayed for three months.
The more than $3 million in military aid, among the largest amount Israel has ever received, includes grants to upgrade the Iron Dome and Arrow anti-ballistic missile systems.
The delay follows the Obama's administration's difficulty in passing the annual 2011 budget, which forced the president to sign a presidential order extending the current budget through March. Funding for the budget will be disbursed on a month-to-month basis until then.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- Richard Holbrooke, the legendary U.S. diplomat who brokered a Balkan peace and who enjoyed talking about his Jewish roots, has died.
Holbrooke, who was the Obama administration's envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan when he died, suffered a torn aorta on Friday and was hospitalized. The State Department announced his death on Monday. He was 69.
It’s hardly surprising that U.S. efforts to coax Israel into extending its West Bank settlement freeze seem to have derailed. What was unclear from the initial reports: does the Obama administration have a Plan B, or does this represent the effective end of its efforts to find a route to peace for Israel and the Palestinians?
From the beginning, it never made much sense to us to invest U.S. prestige in an unbecoming effort to lure Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu back to the peace table with a rich package of incentives that included F-35 warplanes.
Reading the early reports about the apparent U.S. decision to give up on its efforts to win a renewed Israeli settlement freeze in return for a big package of incentives, I can't help but wonder if what we're seeing here is simply an administration with absolutely no sense of direction.
WASHINGTON (JTA) -- The Obama administration abandoned efforts to get Israel to freeze its settlements.
"After consulting with the parties, we have determined that a moratorium extension will not at this time provide the best basis for resuming negotiations," a number of media quoted a senior administration official as saying on Tuesday.
The Palestinians left direct talks in late September, just weeks after they restarted, demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extend a partial settlement freeze past its ten-month deadline.
I was scheduling a lifecycle event with a congregant the other day and we ran into a snag having to do with his 27-year-old daughter's vacation schedule. "Oh, sorry rabbi," he said, "that weekend will be impossible. Amy will be trekking in Vietnam."