“Netanyahu is telling the US that he wants to negotiate at the same time he is thumbing his nose at the State Department which has long been against continued settlements,” added Martin
World Bulletin/News Desk
The US could not afford to put time into an issue that will not produce a peace agreement as new settlements paralyzed the two-state solution, said Professor Lenore G. Martin, an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian issue and co-author of “Israel and Palestine: Two States for Two Peoples, If Not Now, When?”
Disputes over the settlementshave been the main reason behind the diplomatic paralysis of the last three years in Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. After taking office, US President Barack Obama was quick to try to restart the peace process by resuming contact between Israel and the Palestinians in May 2009.
However the talks collapsed in September 2010 as US negotiators failed to persuade Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition to renew a settlement freeze on all occupied territories, which was pre-condition of the Palestinian side.
As Obama pushes for another attempt to boost the talks, settlement activities are once again on the top of the negotiating table with Israeli cabinet’s approving 1,187 new settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank just three days before the parties meet in Jerusalem. Announcing the second round of talks to be held on August 14 in Jerusalem, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said, “Our position on settlements has not changed. We do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity and oppose any efforts to legitimize settlement outposts.”
Speaking to Anadolu Agency (AA), Martin, a strong advocate of two-state solution, pointed out that the settlements were crippling to a two-state solution as many of these additional settlements announced Monday were around Jerusalem.
“Netanyahu is telling the US that he wants to negotiate at the same time he is thumbing his nose at the State Department which has long been against continued settlements,” added Martin.
Netanyahu paralyzes two-state solution, endangers trust between US-Israel
Martin said, “This is Netanyahu staking out his position not only on settlements but on Israel’s position on Jerusalem as well.”
Reminding that the US wants peace between the Israelis and Palestinians “for the sake of increasing stability in an increasingly unstable Middle East and in order to improve the standing of the US in the region,” Martin said Netanyahu would overshadow the trust between the US and Israel.
She further said, “Netanyahu needs to want peace with the Palestinians and needs to be willing to be a strong leader and tackle the hard issues even if it means tackling the difficult political constellation that makes up the Israeli electorate. He can do this if he is willing to work with the peace groups in the opposition.”
Upon the question about the US position on Israel’s new settlement decision, Martin explained, “Unfortunately, the US does not seem willing to take any really substantive steps to enforce their stand against the building of settlements. What is most likely is that the US will disengage more and that will not be so good for Israel in this unstable moment in the Middle East. But, the US cannot afford to put time into an issue that will not produce a peace agreement. It is not good for US standing in the region and also the US has many other very important issues on which it needs to concentrate.”
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