Under relentless pressure by the Obama administration, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu agreed, last November, to a one-sided one-time10-month Jewish construction freeze on the six percent of the West Bank where Jews live.
Since the Oslo accords were signed in 1993, Israel hasn't built a single new settlement and has only built within the settlement borders as of 1993.
If you want to understand the maddeningly complex debate over Israel's West Bank settlements and U.S. policy, check out these two op-eds that articulately outline two opposing positions.
In today's Washington Post, columnist Richard Cohen took the Obama administration to task for what he says is its counterproductive focus on stopping settlement construction as a necessary precursor of a viable peace process.
Cohen accurately laid out the emotional punch the issue carries for both sides:
JERUSALEM (JTA) -- Building began in West Bank communities just hours after the expiration of a 10-month settlement construction freeze.
Work on 50 apartments for people removed five years ago from Gush Katif began Monday morning in Ariel. Construction also continued Monday in Revava, Yakir and Kochav Hashachar, Haaretz reported, on homes for which permits had been issued before the freeze began.
Construction is expected to begin Tuesday in several other West Bank communities including Shavei Shomron, Adam, Oranit, Sha'arei Tikva, Kedumim and Karmei Tzur.
NEW YORK (JTA) -- The Jewish Federations of North America and its two primary overseas partners have reached an agreement in principle over how to divide the money raised by local federations.
The Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee have been struggling with the JFNA for nearly two years over how to split the more than $100 million raised by the federation system for overseas needs. The two overseas partners have traditionally split the money using a formula that gives 75 percent of the funds to the Jewish Agency and 25 percent to JDC.
I was intrigued by this week's Internet buzz about reports talks are underway about a possible trade: convicted spy Jonathan Pollard for a three month extension of Israel's West Bank settlement moratorium. Mostly, I was intrigued because people actually believe this silliness.
The New york Times, citing an Israel reported on Monday that the idea was one of many floated by officials in Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, but some Internet news and blog sites immediately began churning out copy suggesting the “deal” was under serious consideration.
Neither side can be seen scuttling negotiations, experts say.
Washington — When the fat lady sings on Sept. 26, it may only be an intermission.
That’s the word from an array of Mideast experts across the political spectrum. They are predicting that the seeming intractability between Israel and the Palestinians over whether Israel extends a settlement moratorium beyond its end date will not scuttle the peace talks.
Instead, the observers say, the sides are likely employing the brinksmanship that has come to characterize Middle East peacemaking.