"Fighting the freeze", Jerusalem Post (4 Dec 2009), Tovah Lazaroff, link:
Indeed, both Barak and Netanyahu bent over backward in the last week to assure settlers that nothing had changed. Netanyahu said in public statements that after 10 months, previous building policies would resume. Barak assured the two settler leaders who deigned to meet with him that the settlement blocs would be an integral part of Israel in any future negotiations with the Palestinians.
This 10-month period is even called a "moratorium"; in other words, the goal is simply to slow down construction, but not to actually remove or withdraw anything. As Jon said in one strip of Garfield, when Garfield goes on a diet, the goal isn't to lose weight, but only to slow the gain.
As Conor Cruise O'Brien recognized decades ago (cf. his "Why Israel Can't Take
"Bold Steps" for Peace", The Atlantic Monthly, October 1985), Israeli and Arab leaders don't actually expect to reach anything with each other. Israel knows that without giving the Arabs Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, there will be no peace, and the Arabs say as much. So what we do is, Israel makes offers that it knows are too small and that the Arabs will reject (e.g. an offer to give them the West Bank minus Jerusalem), and the Arabs make offers that they know are too large and will be rejected by Israel (e.g. peace if they are given Jerusalem). The result is that both sides know that nothing will happen, but their plan isn't to get peace; it is rather to curry favor with the world. Israel-Arab politics is like a wrestling match; if you position the camera just right, it looks like his fist really did connect with his face.
P. S. I liked my brother's comment to this post by me:
You must have taken [to heart?] my word regarding the intricacies regarding feigning violence in wrestling. Bravo! Way to connect "sports entertainment" with nonsensical political theatrics. I've taught my apprentice well apparently.
**Update: Shimshont has come to a similar conclusion in her About the settlement freeze:
Netanyahu, I believe, is dealing with the Great World Delusion (that settlements are a stumbling block to peace) by calling everyone’s bluff. He’s saying, “You’re idiots, but rather than telling you you are, I’m going to show you that settlements are just an excuse on the part of the Arabs not to make peace.” ... I would like for this freeze to do what it’s supposed to do, i.e. call the bluff of the Arabs who will just come up with another excuse for why they can’t establish a state of their own and blame Israel for it; show the rest of the world the whiners and incompetents that the Arabs are; and provide a relatively low-cost way for Israel to demonstrate cooperation...But whereas she (viz. Shimshonit) believes that Netanyahu wants the world to realize the stupidity of this whole affair, I rather think that Netanyahu hopes to truly fool and delude the world into buying his bluff, and thus currying favor with the world. But either way, we both agree that this whole affair is puerile.
Also, Shimshonit adds another point worth repeating:
There is, of course, a second reason why settlements should not be considered an obstacle to peace: Many Arabs (including the PA and Hamas) consider Tel Aviv a settlement.
** Update: One more thing can be derived from this whole incident. According to Barak and Netanyahu: Don't worry settlers, because in 10 months, everything will be back to normal. Just freeze all construction for 10 months, and in the end, everything will resume as normal.
But I thought Netanyahu was promising George Mitchell and Obama and Clinton that this freeze signified an Israeli willingness to compromise with the Palestinians for peace! Wasn't Netanyahu telling them that today we'll freeze the construction, and if the Palestinians return similar peace overtures, then we'll progress with the Road Map, etc. etc.?
So Netanyahu is clearing lying to someone. If, as he told the settlers, everything will return to normal in 10 months, then this freeze is not a peace overture at all, whatsoever. And if this freeze really is a peace overture, then he lied to the settlers when he promised everything will return to normal, because if the Palestinians accept his overtures, then the freeze will turn into a withdrawal or expulsion, presumably.
Netanyahu is clearly lying. He's made two contradictory promises. And that's enough for me to not trust a word that comes from his mouth. He's a two-timing double-dealing opportunistic self-serving politician, as the objective evidence in black-and-white shows.