My last day in the office, before coming to Israel, was Tuesday. I remember, because when I emailed this year’s 22 Israel Symposium participants, I noted my optimism (albeit a cautious one) ahead of this year’s trip, with Israel and the Palestinians about to restart diplomatic talks – even if only indirectly.
By the time I was at JFK airport on Wednesday, though, things had changed: Israel had announced new construction in East Jerusalem, and the visiting Vice President Biden, along with the rest of the world, was sharply condemning the move.
By the time I reached Israel yesterday (Thursday), the Palestinians were making the new construction a diplomatic casus belli – threatening not to renew the talks next week if the decision to add homes to Ramat Shlomo, in East Jerusalem, was not suspended.
Today, Friday, I read that Israel will offer “no new concessions” (as if building beyond the Green Line was in Israel’s interests in the first place) and that it expects the Palestinians to back down.
Hopefully there’ll be reasons for renewed optimism as the Symposium moves along.
Meanwhile, I think Interior Minister Eli Yishai explained it most accurately when he said (to paraphrase) that, ‘hey, when we promised a settlement moratorium, no one in the Israeli government ever promised we’d stop building in East Jerusalem’. Yishai’s right: We can blame Netanyahu for a lot of things, but in this case, at least he was honest. The responsibility rests with those who thought that Netanyahu was just ‘talking tough’ for his domestic audience.
you better explore the option of one state. it is going that way.