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Obama-Israel negotiating agreement: don't ask, don't tell on settlements

It’s beginning to look as though a week-long confrontation between the Obama administration and Israel over Jewish housing construction in Jerusalem may be winding toward a negotiated settlement. At least, that is what Israeli officials are hoping as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu prepares to reply to a series of demands relayed to him last week by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

If so, that will be a good thing for all sides in the Middle East -- including the Palestinians. By seizing on the issue of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, President Obama has, for the second time in a year, started one of the few fights that the United States cannot win with Israel. In so doing he has forced Palestinian and Arab leaders to toughen their own positions and threatened to create an impasse that would stop the indirect peace talks his diplomats just set up before they can begin.

According to press reports in both countries, Clinton demanded in a phone call last Friday that Netanyahu reverse the decision by a local council to advance the construction of 1,600 new units in a neighborhood called Ramat Shlomo, a Jewish neighborhood outside Israel’s 1967 borders. Fortunately the State Department has not confirmed that position officially -- though it has now been adopted by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas as a condition for proceeding with the talks.

Netanyahu would never take that step. First, he might be barred from doing so under Israeli law; more importantly, building new Jewish housing in Jerusalem is one of the few issues that virtually all Israelis agree on. No government would formally agree to suspend it -- nor is such a suspension necessary to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement. Leading Israelis and Palestinians -- including Abbas -- have repeatedly agreed, beginning a decade ago, that as part of any final settlement Israel will annex the Jewish neighborhoods it has built in Jerusalem since 1967, as well as nearby settlements in the West Bank. In return Palestinians will exercise sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem and receive compensatory land in Israel.

The Israeli hope is that rather than continue to press this self-defeating demand, Obama will accept Israeli assurances that the new neighborhood will not be constructed anytime soon; it is, in fact, two or three years from groundbreaking. Coupled to that would be an Israeli pledge to avoid publicizing further construction decisions in Jerusalem. The result would not be a freeze, but something like a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy for settlements.

It’s not clear whether Obama will accept such a fudge. But Israeli ambassador Michael Oren, who has been deeply engaged in back channel talks between the two governments, told me Thursday morning that “the goal of both sides at this point is to put this behind us, and go forward with the proximity talks as quickly as possible.” Tensions had been reduced, he said, as it has become clear that Netanyahu’s government was taking Clinton’s message seriously -- it has spent days formulating its response in marathon cabinet meetings. Apart from Jerusalem, it seems the two sides are close to an accord on other U.S. requests, such as how the indirect talks will be structured.

It is, after all, peace talks -- and not a settlement freeze -- that has been the administration’s main goal. Palestinian and Arab leaders, too, have been quietly frustrated with the debate on settlements -- they believe the focus should be on the creation of a Palestinian state, not on the construction of a few more homes in an area they have already tacitly conceded to Israel. Obama reopened this toxic issue in what looked like a fit of pique following the announcement of Ramat Shlomo’s expansion during a visit to Israel last week by Vice President Biden. He would be wise now to quickly settle and move on.

By Jackson Diehl  | March 18, 2010; 12:40 PM ET
Categories:  Diehl  | Tags:  Jackson Diehl  
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Comments

Isn't it true that Israel agreed to a 10 month settlement freeze and that by proceeding with development of this settlement it is going back on that agreement?

If so, in the context of peace talks, where parties need to build confidence and trust in each other, Israel IMO is proving itself untrustworthy. If I was the opposing party to the negotiations, I'd be at least questioning the seriousness of Israel. In a peace negotiation, where peoples and the credibility of all parties are involved, I would think this sort of action, and Israel's response does nobody, possibly except Israel, any good.

I'd love to know what Israel expects to achieve by not rolling back the decision to develop the settlement, and showing what it honors its agreements.

Posted by: jvernon | March 18, 2010 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I think your article is pretty biased and misleading. No country on earth recognizes Israeli's rights to either the west bank or Jerusalem. Including the United States. Israeli settlements are considered the biggest barrier to restarting talks. It's not a cooincidence that Israel announced these new and controversial plans to build new homes in this disputed territory the day our Vice President visited there to jump start the indirect peace talks.. It was giving the entire peace effort the middle finger. Our administration should expect better treatement from the Israeli's.

I think your article was factually wrong and intentionally misleading.

Posted by: sebasma | March 18, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

"By seizing on the issue of Jewish settlement in Jerusalem, President Obama has, for the second time in a year, started one of the few fights that the United States cannot win with Israel."
*******************************************
You're full of crap, Diehl. Read the comments here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/15/AR2010031502667_Comments.html

Your statement is the wishful thinking of one of the many Zionist neo-cons nincompoops writing Op-Eds for the Post. Our patience with Israel is running thin. The magic is gone. No more turning of the other cheek. The announcement of the new Jerusalem settlements was one insult too far. You just don't bite the hand that feeds and protects you. What part of that doesn't Netanyahu understand?

Posted by: st50taw | March 18, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

While we really do not have the right to tell them what to do we do have the right to cut off all aide to them. They will listen to that.

Posted by: scon101 | March 18, 2010 1:24 PM | Report abuse

What is the problem other than a lack of nerve. The whole world knows that Israel cannot expand settlements without continued U.S financial support, "He who pays the piper calls the tune".

The last time the U.S showed any spine against the Israeli lobby was when G.H.W. Bush withheld $10 billion to prevent Israel from building settlements in 1991. But standing up against the Israeli lobby now is unthinkable.

Posted by: BabeintheWoods | March 18, 2010 1:30 PM | Report abuse

ZIONIST PROPAGANDA RULES "free american media". There is nothing new in "dont ask, dont tell" policy towards ongoing ethnic cleansing of palestinians by the "only apartheid democracy" in the middle east.
Does dihel know how to pronounce rachel corrie, what about IDF using palestinian kids in gaza war as human shields.

Posted by: MumboJumboo | March 18, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Here's what I think. There might have been an informal don't ask, don't tell policy with respect to E. Jerusalem before. Netanyahu's government petulently broke it throughout the term of the agreement. Now they want to adhere to it. No deal.

Posted by: MadAsHell3 | March 18, 2010 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Obama's administration is setting up the Palesinians to believe that if they sit back and wait for a schism to develop between Israel and the US, that they will then get the US to extract concessions from Israel that they can't get at the negotiating table. That is a false expectation that both will weaken the Palsetinians will to negotiate, and allow them to blame the failure to get what they want on the United States.

The Arabs are not stupid, and are shrewd negotiators. In fact, they have demonstrated that they can actually deny reality and get away with it.
They refuse to recognize that Israel is a Jewish state. That should demonstrate to the Obama people what they need to extract from the Palestinians in return for extracting concessions from the Israelis. If the US does not face this issue, they do not understand what this conflict is all about, and will never be successful in brokering a peace deal.

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Do all of you Israel-first folks drink the same kool-aid at the same time or do you pass the pitcher around? What part of Israel can't survive for long without the backing of the United States is confusing to you folks? The Israel-Palestinian issue is not the sole source of OUR country's pain and anguish in the region --- BUT it is a substantial source of distrust by Arabs for OUR actions in the region. Now, if you folks at the Post are so keen on blaming the Obama Administration (MY COUNTRY) for this current situation might I suggest you all renounce your American citizenship and emmigrate to Israel. The US goal of a peaceful region is based on a two-state outcome. The rest of the world does not accept Israel's claims to the entire city of Jerusalem. If Israel continues building settlements, seizing property illegally (their court said that not a US court); expanding building into previously agreed on Palestinian neighborhoods, the two-state solution becomes a moot argument. The United States is the ONLY country on the face of this earth that provides Israel legal and moral cover --- why is it so difficult for you Americans (I assume) at The Post who publish these anti-American pieces (and for that matter what is so difficult for the Israeli government to fathom) that our opinions count. Our advice should be accepted; our national interests trump any other's nation's interests (including Israel); and the price for continued support and coverage by the United States is pursuing policies which will enable peace talks to resume and allow two states to live side by side without killing each other.

Posted by: army164 | March 18, 2010 1:48 PM | Report abuse

Isn't it true that Israel agreed to a 10 month settlement freeze and that by proceeding with development of this settlement it is going back on that agreement?
------------------------The argument against this uses some tangential fact that is supposedly absolutely true, but ends up being used out of context and hinges on an ancient Jew's footprint.

Posted by: Emmetrope | March 18, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

The last post was kind of harsh and I take back the un-American part of the post. But Mr. Diehl, you can do me a favor. Since you apparently can get in touch with Israel's Ambassador to United States, could you ask him if he's received the email from me? It's the one that related a story of a US Army officer telling a bunch of Saudi sheikhs/mayors to get "blanked" when they went off on an anti-Israel diatribe. Let him know that while I support Israel, both their obvious right to exist and their democratic values, I am disappointed that they apparently don't value our input, and when their government offends MY leaders it is not at all helpful to their cause here in America. Thanks

Posted by: army164 | March 18, 2010 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Israel is dead. The argument is merely about the funeral arrangements.

Posted by: misterjrthed | March 18, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Since Amb. Oren laid out the position of the Israeli government in a New York Times Op-Ed this morning, I'm a little unclear as to why Jackson Diehl felt it necessary to do the same thing here. He might have simply asked the Times to reprint Oren's column, with appropriate credit.

Yes, a negotiation leading to a peace settlement is the ultimate goal. But the Palestinians don't have a government capable of such a negotiation and the Israelis will not approach the subject in good faith -- a fact dramatized by the position of the Israeli government on settlements.

The view from Tel Aviv is that the United States should settle the current crisis by accepting the Israeli position on settlements, now and in the future, while holding some indirect talks to make it seem as if some negotiating is actually happening. Coincidentally, Mr. Diehl's view is identical to that of the Israeli government. For good measure, both the Diehl and the Israelis throw in some chiding of the Obama administration for even suggesting that settlements that advance no American interest whatever should nonetheless proceed whenever and wherever Tel Aviv thinks they should.

And if this issue does serve as a spur to Muslim terrorist recruitment and an increased threat to American servicemen and women, well, it's not as if either Diehl or anyone in Tel Aviv knows any of those people.

Posted by: jbritt3 | March 18, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

In this region, the main actors all know the dictum that the other side "only understands strength."

The Obama's administration's forceful stance after the deliberate provocation during Vice President Biden's visit to Israel is in keeping with that regional negotiating style. The Israelis most certainly understand this approach: after all, when a prisoner complains of his treatment in an Israeli jail, the typical response is to take away his mattress and threaten to do worse. After a few days the demoralized prisoner is now negotiating simply to have his mattress returned, and his original demands are forgotten. The Israelis make him feel like they're doing him a favor or granting him a great concession by simply returning him to his previous status.

Thus the report of Netanyahu and his ministers holding "marathon cabinet sessions" suggests that this time the Israeli government has had its mattress taken away. They'll get it back soon enough. But Mr. Diehl's suggestion that Obama "cannot win" in this spat reflects not reality but rather the columnist's transparent desire to see the president fail.

Posted by: obeah | March 18, 2010 2:23 PM | Report abuse

To those like jbritt3 who continue to believe that somehow America's support for Israel breeds Islamist terrorism against the US, I urge you to read Osama Bin Ladin's fatwah of 1998, before his attack against the WTC.

If you do that you will find out that his main complaint against the US was the fact that there were US troops in the Ummah or House of Islam. He was particularly peeved about American troops in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. The "Zionist entity" was a mere after thought in that fatwah.

Don't take my word to it. Google it and read it in OBL's own words.

Then, see how that affects your feelings about Israel. It probably won't change them, but that should tell you something in and of itself.

Posted by: captn_ahab | March 18, 2010 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Israeli First lobbyists and spokespersons, like Sen. Lieberman, believe the administration will back down when confronted by the arrogant and ruthless policies of Israel, they have in the past so why not now? Israeli policies have directly resulted in the deaths and wounding of American military for the Israel-Palestine conflict is the central theme of the American quandary in the Middle East, by far! The irrationality of religion is plainly in play with Israel insisting on Jerusalem as their capital while it is the focus of all three of the Desert Religions of Death: Judaism, Christianity and Islam; religions of bigotry, intolerance and hate; religions of faith which is blind trust or belief without any evidence, NONE! Therefore, Israeli policies toward Jerusalem is being driven by mythological irrationality and supported by likes of McCain and Lieberman leading to only more violence and bloodshed of human life!

Posted by: kemcb | March 18, 2010 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Reply to Army 164:

It is unfortunate that you believe that the USA has any right to instruct Israel on where they can or can not build apartments or houses. How would you feel if Hamas and/or Al Quaeda instructed us, (US Citizens) as to where we can and can not build homes or apartments, etc.?

How would you feel if the Palestinians came over here and took residency in California and decided to declare themselves an independant nation?

In 1948, Israel became a nation (like it or not). Since then, the "big roosters" in the barn yard have been trying to tell Israel what they can or can not do! They declare that Israel must give back lands they took as a result of the wars of 1948, 1967, 1973, etc. What a crock of puppy poop! Perhaps both Britain, Russia, France, and the United States, adhering to this principle, should return all our acquired lands which we took as a result of war.

The Palestinians left many of their settlements in Israel at the behest of their Arab brothers (Egypt and Syria) who intended to invade Israel and promised that once they had overwhelmed Israel, they could return. They were arrogant and failed to see or know that the God of Abrham, of Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Israel, would fight for Israel.

Those palestinians who left their settlements before Egypt and Syria invaded Israel were rejected as a whole or in part by their Arab brothers. No Arab nation wanted them. Israel allowed many of them to return, albeit, by some degree of international pressure.

Israel is one of the smallest nations, if not the smallest (by geographic definition) in the world. Yet the Arab nations, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Iran, etc., resent the fact that Israel even exists. So let the "big roosters" in the barn yard take the Palestinians and transplant them on an island of their choosing. Would this bring peace in the Middle East? NOT AT ALL!

Hillary Rodham "Jezebel" Clinton merely mimics the policy of this present and temporary administration. Trading land for peace WILL NEVER BRING A LASTING PEACE for Israel! You can take that to the bank and draw interest on it!

As for Israel being so dependant upon support (financial and political) from the United States, what utter nonsense! If you and others like you are not students of the Word of God, you are indeed blind men. For the Word of God declares the future events which concern Israel, and the world for that matter.

Wake up and open your blind eyes. For you do not even discern the times in which you now live! How can you presume to discern the correct course for Israel, or for any other problem which now confronts the nations of this world?

Posted by: Jordan48 | March 18, 2010 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's a stupid stance Obama chose. Likud has been very duplicitous and it's not fair that Palestinians are not allowed to vote in the Israeli elections. Both Likud and Hamas are enemies to the peace process, even though the Palestinians descend partially from the northern tribes of Israel and the Prophet Ezekiel said they should be accepted. And why can't Palestinians and Jews marry each other. Wow, what a democracy! There is plenty of vacant land in the West Bank that Jews should be allowed to move into, but the two factions need to stop acting like they're tackling for land. Jews shouldn't be stealing from Palestinians or else this won't stop. I don't need to list all of Hamas' wrongs, but neither faction is helping any.

We make a major mistake when we support Israel's government regardless of political party. Likud has always been a duplicitous enemy in the peace process, and our blind support of Israel, as well as crunching all the variables, shows it will lead to World War III and put the US in an isolated position, straining us to fight the entire Muslim world and creating a monster. We should take a strong stance against Likud and start supporting the moderates and liberals whose aims are more in line with America's security and the general Jewish American stance. Israel is currently a Jew-only democracy, and the Jew who wants peace in Israel is the minority. We are not doing enough to support Jews of the more progressive stance, which is the only way to keep America and Israel safe from extremists on both sides.

Posted by: opalsun66 | March 18, 2010 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Let's cut to the chase and put a UN peacekeeping force in Gaza & the West Bank to protect the Palestinians from the IDF.

If they'd use US troops, I'd be tempted to join.

Posted by: AIPACiswar | March 18, 2010 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow, that's a stupid stance Obama chose. Likud has been very duplicitous and it's not fair that Palestinians are not allowed to vote in the Israeli elections. Both Likud and Hamas are enemies to the peace process, even though the Palestinians descend partially from the northern tribes of Israel and the Prophet Ezekiel said they should be accepted. And why can't Palestinians and Jews marry each other. Wow, what a democracy! There is plenty of vacant land in the West Bank that Jews should be allowed to move into, but the two factions need to stop acting like they're tackling for land. Jews shouldn't be stealing from Palestinians or else this won't stop. I don't need to list all of Hamas' wrongs, but neither faction is helping any.

We make a major mistake when we support Israel's government regardless of political party. Likud has always been a duplicitous enemy in the peace process, and our blind support of Israel, as well as crunching all the variables, shows it will lead to World War III and put the US in an isolated position, straining us to fight the entire Muslim world and creating a monster. We should take a strong stance against Likud and start supporting the moderates and liberals whose aims are more in line with America's security and the general Jewish American stance. Israel is currently a Jew-only democracy, and the Jew who wants peace in Israel is the minority. We are not doing enough to support Jews of the more progressive stance, which is the only way to keep America and Israel safe from extremists on both sides.

Posted by: opalsun66 | March 18, 2010 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Our foreign policy - talk (don't listen), talk (don't listen), talk (don't listen.
Then act surprised when the foreign countries do what they said they would do all along!

Posted by: thornegp2626 | March 18, 2010 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Israel takes and takes and takes and blames others for the unmitigated greed of their undemocratic country. Americans die in Iraq so Israel can steal a little more land and water, one more apartment, a few more Arabs or Palestinians cleansed from the Jewish gods holy land. When will Americans understand what the rest of the world understands? Americans are fools to continue this relationship with the pariah that Israel has become.

Posted by: jj1123 | March 18, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Hey Jordan, if Israel wants to go it alone, they have evry right. When we are footing a substantial bill both in dollars and cents and in blood and flesh, then yes, we do have the right to insist on certain behaviors ... now Israel can indeed turn around and tell us to pound sand. No problem with that at all. But they don't do they. They take our support and still tell us to pound sand. I am not an Arab or Palestinian apologist. However, it takes two sides for an argument. Israel's behaviors are not entirely pure and haven't been for 60 years. You can deny reality all you want. How wold you feel if your family lived on apiece of land for centuries and some country comes along and boots you off of it. How would you feel if I walled off your entire community, put locks on every access, prevented you from earning a living, separated you from your families, etc. Now compound the misery, you are a member of a group with zero political and military power. No one is asking the Israeli's to trade land for peace. Israel is being asked to stop "taking" what isn't theirs to begin with. And please keep your Old Testament crap to yourself, the sooner everyone in that region looks to the future and not the past (who smote who, who was given the land by whom, chosen people, and all that other hooey) the better. American blood has been shed because of our reltions with Israel; some of it by direct actions of Israelis. I simply say, you want my blood and treasure, you want my support, then earn it through your actions!

Posted by: army164 | March 18, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse

Diehl, Applebaum, Hiatt, Krautheimer, Gerson, Ignatious etc., should all be compelled to register as agents of a foreign Government, face they have no loyalty to America.

Posted by: daniel3715 | March 18, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

So, the antisemitic left believes that Israel will knuckle under if the US reneges on the aid it pays as part of a peace treaty with Egypt. Cool. Are we going to send American troops in to enforce our demands? Why would anyone think that the strongest military power in the Middle East and the only middle eastern nuclear power would suddenly wimp out and surrender their sovereignty to those that hate them? What leap of logic leads them to believe that we could not control third rate powers like Iraq or Iran but suddenly they think it is a good idea that the US declare war on Israel? The most likely result of the US assuming a truly adversarial position with Israel would be a nuclear attack on Iran by Israel. Grow up lefties! The Israelis have substantial nuclear capabilities and a "never again" mentality about marching to the gas chambers at the urging of friends like you. You guys are afraid to take on little North Korea but you want to pick a fight with Israel. Go figure.

Posted by: JeffL2 | March 18, 2010 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Reply to Post by: kemcb:

Do you practice being stupid or does it come naturally for you? I would not be surprised if you need a seeing eye dog to lead you around!

I have been told that it is better to be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. True Christianity does not advocate, endorse, nor does it teach that murdering your brother is right! The Jews have been slaughtered by the millions since 70 A.D., When Jerusalem fell in 70 A.D., over 1.3 million were slaughtered. Over 97,000 were led off into captivity. The Nazi reign of terror of the '30s and '40s accounts for over 6 million slaughtered Jews. Even now, the sons of perdition, those who follow the radical leaders of Islam cry out for their extermination.

Jesus Christ taught that there are those who are blind by choice, and it is apparent to me that you are one of those. For you do not even discern the perilous times in which you now live.

For soon the whole world will see the amassing of a great Army from the nations of the old Persian empire and Rosh from the north, who will array their massive armies against Israel, to conquer and slaughter.

Yet the Lord of Hosts (alone) shall rescue Israel and fight against them and utterly destroy all but a portion of their armies. The blood of those slain will rise to the height of a horses bridle in the valley of slaughter. When this comes to pass, if you have not passed through the veil of death already, tell us then that God does not exist! Hear me, for surely you will bow yourself before HIM and declare that Christ is the Son of God. Pray earnestly that you do this while life remains in your temporal body, for it is written: "Every head will bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God!" That includes YOU!

Posted by: Jordan48 | March 18, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

Answer to jvernon: The agreement only covered new settlements on the West Bank and not in the greater Jerusalem area which many Israelis consider an undivided Israeli capital. Of course, as part of a real peace process a lot will be given, including portions of what is now the greater Jerusalem. As a matter of fact that was done when President Clinton arranged a peace meeting and then Arafat declined the offer.

Posted by: HarGru | March 18, 2010 3:32 PM | Report abuse

too funny that most of the posters are even more ill informed that the columnist.

israel has every right to build houses whereever it likes - the jordanians did not consult anyone when they controlled the territory pre-1967, nor did the British.

the whole contruction issue is simply a palestinian ploy to divert attention from their own refusal to engage with israel on peace talks. israel would be more than happy to cancel this project if the palestinians showed any desire for peace.

Posted by: Boraxo1 | March 18, 2010 3:33 PM | Report abuse

People should look at what is really going on. The Obama administrations's only foreign policy successes have occurred when they abansoned the course they advocated and returned to the policies of George Bush. They are about to do the same in Israel and the fight they picked is simply a cover for abandoning peace talks and going back to benign neglect like Bush did. The basic leftwing position is that the US should be an honest broker, a middle man, in the middle east AND use its friendship with Israel to nudge it towards softer positions. Only problem is you can't be both distant from Israel and its friend at the same time. not in the real world.The Israelis will be better off when they stop getting American aid, because they will then be in a position to show the world that they are capable of surviving on their own. Of course, without American aid, there will be nothing moderating the Israelis when they are attacked by the muslims, and the Israelis may have do things cheaper. Example: It is easier to firebomb all Muslim areas and be rid of the muslim problem once and for all, than to adhere to the standards we impose on them as a recipient of American aid. Oh well. Maybe 4 million dead Arabs is what the left really wants.

Posted by: JeffL2 | March 18, 2010 3:44 PM | Report abuse

It's just a guess at what criticism you will level at the President. If you write, we know it will be something. The Weekly Standard could use you.

Posted by: Gondola1 | March 18, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Reply to: army164

If you were a student of American History, you would realize that the State of Georgia did the same thing to the Cherokee Indians. President Andrew Jackson, in defiance of a Supreme Court ruling in the matter of Cherokee settlements, authorized the removal of the Cherokess from their homes, their farms, and forced the Cherokee Indians off their lands. Ever heard the term "Trail of Tears?"

The atrocities which were committed by the United States against the American Indians can not adequately be reported in this limited forum.

To ignore the Old Testament writings is true arrogance of those who have been imparted some modicum of knowlege, but forsake wisdom in the use of that knowlege. To ignore the written history of mankind and the lessons we find there, is a guarantee that men will repeat the mistakes of their past. To reject the teachings we find in the New Testament is the act of arrogant and ignorant minds! Full of knowlege, but lacking of wisdom.

Posted by: Jordan48 | March 18, 2010 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't know where you get your information from Boraxo1. This is not some Palestinian ploy (although Israeli thuggishness sure plays into the hands of Israel's detractors) instead it is Israel's efforts to practice what amounts to ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem. When you forcibly evict families that have lived in an area for many generations, what else would you call it?

http://www.icahd.org/eng/

I simply don't put much credence in your belief that Israel would cancel any of these projects without pressure from the United States. Lord knows the Palestinian people have no sway on them.

Posted by: army164 | March 18, 2010 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Yes in fact I have heard of the Trail of Tears and am right now reading the book Jackson's Way and am very familiar with our treatment of Native Americans. I guess I miss your point. Is the point that my government commited atrocities in the past therefore it is OK for all governments that we support to likewise commit atrocities? Is that the point? I would hope not. Is the point that America achieved peace by exterminating or incarcerating its enemies therefore we should allow any foreign government to do the same? Is the point that our trials and tribulations and missteps in the past prevent us from advising a friendly government that they are going about something in the worng way? No, we have the right to demand of our friends that a condition of us remaining friends is better behavior. I don't see anything wrong with that.

Posted by: army164 | March 18, 2010 4:12 PM | Report abuse

To Capn Ahab. Who do you think has any influence with the Palestinians? Iran, Syria perhaps? What responsible government in the world has influence with the Palestinians and could bring them back to a negotiating table and help them work with Israel for a better future? As I survey the world I see one government that has the ability to broker these kinds of talks. US, the United States. However, our influence is diminshed if one side of these talks thumbs their collectve nose at our efforts. Palestinians and their current situation is part of the larger Middle East narrative. I don't think Britt said that AQ does what it does to support Palestinians. We didn't get attacked on 9-11 solely because of our support of a "zionist" Israel. But to think that this conflict, this situation does not impact on America's relationships throughout the region is ridiculous. These things are all connected to one degree or another.

Posted by: army164 | March 18, 2010 4:31 PM | Report abuse

Now its funny here is the President tell Israel that we are your friend and ally but if you do not do what we tell you to do well we will stop aid or just not talk to you. Since Israel is on of the large holder of American Treasury Bonds, and one of the worlds leaders in military technoligy, which is used my all parts of the American military in one form or another, and since no americans service people are in harms way because Israel builds homes in what it considers it capital why is everyone so willing to cut off , not talk to or deal with the fact that Israel is a sovergin country

Posted by: DBERK37 | March 18, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

What is the "diehl" with these Zionist, Israel-first, screw-Obama columns? What happened to the Washington Post of the Ben Bradlee era, the one that would crack Watergate? It's a sign of the times that Diehl offers us up some delicious Hasbara-flavored Kool-Aid and expects people to swallow it as the truth. Israel is a rogue nation, people are waking up, and the notion that "don't-ask-don't-tell" is nothing more than an AIPAC-WINEP-JPPPI-ADL pipedream to make this go away is sheer hasbaric fantasy.

Part of the problem is that Israel has been the tail that's wagged the dog for so damned long, it's shocked, shocked I tell you! that it could be held to international standards of decency.

Fred Hiatt's editorial page is a pedantic, intellectually dishonest hub of Zionist propaganda.

When Israel starts putting American lives in harm's way, Diehl and Hiatt can spew all the hasbara they want, but Americans will finally rise up and say pull the $3 billion plug on this "special relationship." But the tax money toward something else, like . . . um, how about JOB CREATION!?

Posted by: ConscientiousObjector1 | March 18, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

How exactly is Israel putting American lives at risk? Does anyoen believe that if Israel disappeared from the map, that Islam would suddenly love America? Would America pullout of the oil rich gulf states for its own strategic interests?
Afhgan taliban and qaeda are the overgrown jihadists backed by America to fight the soviets after the 82 invasion by Brezhnev. Now Russia is out and America is in. The mujaheddin no longer have russian soldiers to kill, so they target American and British soldiers. that ain't Israel's war, and it has nothing to do with Palestinians.
As for US aid, it does not go the settlements. It actually goes to US arms manufacturers in a circuitous route. Israel has to buy US military products, to keep the US factories rolling. Aid also goes to the PA, Iraq and Egypt. And there is two way aid - israel supplies hi tech military hard and software to the US, eg armour protection for tanks and APCs; anti-missile technology eg Arrow. So there is a technology spin off.
Part of the US policy is to buy friends and influence governments. it has been effective, eg the Egypt-Israel peace treaty, which has stabilised that border conflict, and both sides started getting aid as a reward. So aid should be seen as an incentive for peace. US is free to withdraw aid if the voters so choose. I would prefer they did, so that Israel is given more freedom of movement. Also, the aid is like a bearhug, restricting Israel's ability to be independent, and to trade freely with countries like China, which are against American "interests". Since America is the superpower, it has a lot of say. I am British, and I know what it means when an Empire comes to an end. China is the rising star, and that is the economic and strategic challenge for AMerica. Also, Iran, is a terror empire, and with nukes and sattelite technology , a single weapon above the USA coudl send an EMP to damage all of the US infrastructure.
The questionis whether Obama's loyalty is to America, or to Islam. Time will tell.

Posted by: middlemex | March 18, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

If it is true that the US and Israel have agreed on a "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy toward the settlements, peace talks are a waste of time since Israel will continue its land stealing until it has all the land. The Palestinians should abandon their dream of statehood and work on making apartheid Israel into a one-state democracy for all its people, including Palestinian.

Posted by: marge9 | March 18, 2010 9:49 PM | Report abuse

No country in the world recognizes Israel's right to the lands they continue to annex, including the US. Time to stop pussy footing around and cut off aid to Israel until it sits down for serious negotiations that lead to a 2 state situation. This has gone on too long. The terrorists are on both sides of the lines here, not just on the arab side. Time for Israel to wise up and become part of the international community.

Posted by: charlesvilagboy | March 18, 2010 10:00 PM | Report abuse

To HarGru: Thanks for clarifying this. I wasn't sure. From knowing other successful peace initiatives, the need to maintain agreements, no matter how small they are, especially early in the process, is what gives the other parties confidence of seriousness. There have been setbacks, often out of the control of all parties involved ... special interests who want to derail the efforts. I wish this process the best. I imagine it'll take a long, long time.

Posted by: jvernon | March 19, 2010 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Mr. Kristoff - " Substantial majorities of both parties supported the legislation at every stage.

This is what allows historic legislation to become historic"

I disagree with you. As I recall, there was outrage from about half of the country when the Civil Rights bill was passed. I believe this health reform will be historic.

Posted by: ThelmaMcCoy | March 20, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

"Palestinian and Arab leaders, too, have been quietly frustrated with the debate on settlements -- they believe the focus should be on the creation of a Palestinian state, not on the construction of a few more homes in an area they have already tacitly conceded to Israel."

HAHAHAHAHAHA....you're a comedian too?

Like you even spoke to a single Palestinian. Nice try Diehl, but a pathetic outcome, via your dribble. I bet you're angling for a Fox News job, aren't you? There HAS to be some motivation for being such a blatant israeli apologist. Why not just join Bibi Yahu's coalition? That way you could write really nice things for your radical crowd? America is fed-up with Israel.

Posted by: randybe | March 22, 2010 6:35 AM | Report abuse

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