New Israeli messaging on the settlement freeze: An attempt to move the ball to the Palestinian court?
According to Haaretz, Israeli President Shimon Peres announced Yesterday (November 22 2009) after his meeting with Mubarak that once Israeli-Palestinian negotiations restart, Israel will freeze settlements. A closer look revealsthat he is promising something Israel is presently committed to — no new settlements, no land confiscation and evacuation of “outposts”. The headline may, however, may be indicative of a new Israeli messaging strategy — “we will freeze settlements but the Palestinians are refusing resume negotiations” — aimed at moving the ball to Palestinian court.
See this morning’s (November 23 2009) Yediot article below describing how the IDF is preparing for a settlement freeze “as part of Israel’s political preparations for a resumption of the talks with the Palestinians” and that this move “went hand in hand with President Shimon Peres’s statement yesterday in Cairo to the effect that Israel would cease all construction in the settlements upon the resumption of talks with the Palestinians.”
IDF prepares for construction freeze in settlements
Alex Fishman, Yediot, November 23 2009 [page 9]
The Defense Ministry’s legal counsel has recently finalized the preparation of military orders that enjoin a full moratorium on construction everywhere in Judea and Samaria.
The military orders were drafted in coordination with the Prime Minister’s Office as part of Israel’s political preparations for a resumption of the talks with the Palestinians. The orders that were drafted by the Defense Ministry will become “orders by the OC Central Command,” who is the sovereign over the West Bank, immediately upon a decision by the Israeli political echelon to resume talks with the Palestinian Authority.
In the course of their most recent visit to the United States, the defense minister and prime minister apprised senior American officials with whom they met, including President Barack Obama and special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell, of the preparations Israel was making in advance of the possibility that talks with the Palestinians would be renewed. In the course of those meetings an Israeli commitment was made to impose a complete moratorium on construction in the settlements.
In the past number of months there has been an unprecedented boom of both legal and illegal construction across Judea and Samaria. The legal construction involves construction work on the basis of old permits that were not acted on, as well as the approximately 3,000 permits that were issued by the Defense Ministry legalizing the completion of buildings that were already in the process of being built. The settlers’ various settlement apparatuses had also prepared well in advance for the possibility of a construction freeze and for the past number of months have been making a concerted effort to build as much as possible before the OC Central Command’s order goes into effect.
Informed sources said that Israel was likely to find itself facing a strongly-worded American protest once the latter realized, by means of aerial photographs and inspections on the ground, that the actual scope of construction in Judea and Samaria exceeded the scope that had been authorized by the Israeli government as it had been reported to the them. Informed sources in the security establishment said that issuing orders enjoining a construction freeze upon the resumption of the political negotiations went hand in hand with President Shimon Peres’s statement yesterday in Cairo to the effect that Israel would cease all construction in the settlements upon the resumption of talks with the Palestinians.
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