Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to disclose who spoke and under whose auspices an “off-the-record” discussion occurred recently with a former official of the Israeli government, but I hope I’m permitted to make the following comments:
When I raised the problem of the Ariel settlement bloc being “too obtrusive” into West Bank territory for the Palestinian Authority to accept, this individual responded that the Palestinians consider “all the settlement blocs equally intrusive.” But this is clearly untrue. They have a special concern for Ariel (and to some extent, with Maaleh Adumim). The “Palestine Papers” revealed that PA Pres. Abbas (in late 2008) would have gone along with most of the settlement bloc towns except for Ariel. And this is without even discussing East Jerusalem, where the PA would accept all the pre-2009 Jewish settlements/neighborhoods except for Har Homa (which blocks off the preexisting social and economic links between Arab East Jerusalem and the West Bank).
This individual’s viewpoint seems typical of the Israeli center (or slightly right of center), as represented most by Kadima nowadays, that as long as settlement expansion is done inside the blocs contiguous with the pre-1967 Green Line, which “everybody knows” will be incorporated into Israel, it’s okay. In other words, there’s no consideration for the political atmospherics and the kind of pressures that the PA leadership faces from its extreme right and left flanks. Of course, as is shown by Ariel, the degree of what “everybody knows” is less than he admits. And he’s not even mentioning settlement activities beyond the blocs, and especially in Sheikh Jarrah and Silwan in East Jerusalem.
I don’t see Prime Minister Netanyahu as bold enough to advance toward a peace agreement with the PA, because this would require jettisoning his right wing, including half or more of his own Likud party. So, the government needs to change, but if only a Kadima-led (centrist) coalition would constitute that change, this speaker illustrated how Kadima may also be unequal to the task.