Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:
The Obama administration on Wednesday castigated the Israeli government for approving plans to create a new Jewish settlement on the West Bank, three weeks after it signed a lucrative military aid package with the United States and a week after President Obama traveled to Jerusalem for the funeral of Shimon Peres.
In an uncommonly harsh statement, the State Department “strongly condemned” the move, saying it violated Israel’s pledge not to construct new settlements and ran counter to the long-term security interests Israel was seeking to protect with the military deal.
Robin Williams (RIP) used to do a standup routine about cops in different places, and eventually he’d get to cops in the UK, who generally don’t carry guns. The punchline was the cop says “Stop! Or I’ll…say ‘stop’ again!” which, I think, pretty accurately conveys the nature of the US-Israel relationship when it comes to settlements. They build settlements, we say “stop,” they say “OK,” we say “great, here’s our ATM card and PIN,” they build settlements, lather, rinse, repeat. This episode is a little different than the usual. Peres, the Man of Peace who spent most of his life helping further the settlements cause, just died. The US just handed over more money to Israel than it’s ever handed over to anybody, and came away believing that this had somehow bought them a pause in settlement construction (he yanked that damn football away again). Plus Obama and Netanyahu just had a little chat sesh at the UN and, wouldn’t you know it, Bibi didn’t say anything about any new settlements even though Obama gave him the “your mother and I are very disappointed in you” speech for the 50th or so time.
But it’s not that much different. Nevertheless, the NYT decided to throw a little comedy into its reporting:
The administration statement also rekindled speculation that Mr. Obama might lay down guidelines for a proposed peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians before he leaves office, either in a speech or, less likely, by backing a resolution at the United Nations Security Council.
“The administration has been escalating its rhetoric in opposition to West Bank settlement activity for more than a year,” said Martin S. Indyk, who served as Mr. Obama’s special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “The government of Israel doesn’t seem to be listening.”
“At a certain point,” said Mr. Indyk, who is now the executive vice president of the Brookings Institution, “the administration may well decide that there needs to be consequences for what it now sees as an effort to close off the two-state solution.”
HA HA HA HA HA HA HA oh God that’s never going to happen. Not when we’re a scant ~4 months away from the inauguration of Hillary Clinton, who’s promised Netanyahu that not only will she keep the money flowing, she’ll even stop Obama’s annoying habit of occasionally making some toothless objection to Likud’s ongoing ethnic cleansing efforts in the West Bank. And she’s the better case scenario here.
To be fair to Netanyahu–fairer than he’s ever been to any Palestinian, anyway–this new settlement construction is intended to replace another settlement that an Israeli court has deemed illegal. So it presumably won’t result in any net increase in West Bank settlements. Of course, Netanyahu could tell the people living on the illegal settlement to get out of the occupied West Bank altogether instead of building them another West Bank settlement, but he’d never do that.