A Likud-led government would not build new settlements in the West Bank but would allow for natural growth, Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told Quartet envoy Tony Blair Sunday, in an apparent attempt to calm the international community before this week’s arrival of George Mitchell, the newly appointed U.S. envoy to the Middle East.
“I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank,” Netanyahu told Blair in a meeting Sunday. “But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements.”
Netanyahu also said he plans to work to advance negotiations with the Palestinians quickly and to focus on economic development.
“Every moment of stagnation isn’t good, and I plan to deal with the Palestinian issue very intensively,” he said.
How does he lie? Let me count the ways. If anyone reading this truly believes he will not permit the building of new settlements they really should have their head examined. And even if we take him at his word he certainly will not stand in the way of settlers creating their own “facts on the ground.” That is, illegal settlements which somehow over time become legal ones as they’re absorbed into the Occupation regime.
I’ve talked here about the charade of “economic development” being the Bibi-style solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Only in the mind of an Israeli right-winger can there be a purely economic solution to the conflict. When all the world, and especially the Palestinians will tell anyone who cares to listen that the essence of this conflict is not economic (though there are terrible economic consequences as a result), and its not even primarily religious (though again their are religious elements). It IS primarily political and only a political settlement involving political compromise and creation of a political entity called Palestine on Israeli land occupied since 1967 (with minor adjustments) will resolve it.
As far as I’m concerned, Netanyahu thinks he’s still playing the games that all Israeli prime minister’s play with foreign diplomats and negotiators. We tell you one thing with a wink and nudge, then go about doing precisely what we want. It reminds me a bit of a cancer patient who’s just been given his diagnosis and told he needs to cut out cigarettes. He swears to the doctor he will and as soon as the latter leaves the room he invites all his friends to join him as he lights up, saying to them: “Another one isn’t going to kill me.” Well, guess what–it will.
I hope to God when George Mitchell meets with Netayahu later this week he will splash some cold water on the otherwise delusional Netanyahu and tell him that the U.S. view of his “economics” pitch is that it is decidedly a non-starter. If Netanyahu wants Israel to die of cancer let’s tell him he’s not going to do it under our care. We’ve got to tell Israel to go cold turkey. It’s the only way.