An Israeli friend of this blog, Zvi Solow, sends this wonderful bit of Hebrew linguistic dexterity:
Hamtanah: this is the latest buzz word of the Bibi-Barak government. Under intense U.S. pressure re the settlements – [and] facing increasing contrary pressure from the ideological / populist members of his government (Bogy Yaalon, Eli Yishai, etc), the “solution,” it turns out, is to declare – as Atias, the Shas minister for housing just did – that the government “of course” supports settlements in Eretz Israel; but just now, because of the delicate negotiations with the US…temporarily no building permits are issued. The government, says Atias – hasn’t decided – has vehalila – on a settlement freeze–as it upholds our “right” to settle in all of Eretz Israel–but now we are in a period of “hamtana” – waiting. For Godot ? The Messiah ? How convenient that Ivrit is so rich.
Hamtanah is apparently the ‘pause that refreshes.’ Political circumstances are not conducive to a continuing massive influx of Israeli settlers, so we take a break and wait for the opportune moment to resume our heavenly duty to repopulate the Holy Land. My reply to Zvi was that I didn’t care what rationale Israelis used to justify a retreat on this issue as long as they got to accepting a freeze. But I fear that, as in so many past Israeli statements on these issues, that this is all linguistic gamesmanship and signifies very little. The hamtanah is a fig leaf, or a bone thrown to Obama to get him to think Israel accepts the freeze when it doesn’t.
It’s up to Obama to see through this and plow forward.