A pretty fascinating piece in Foreign Policy by Laura Rozen about the current administration’s message to Netanyahu and the rationale behind it:
Last night, shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told journalists that the Obama administration “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a confidante. Referring to Clinton’s call for a settlement freeze, Netanyahu groused, “What the hell do they want from me?” according to his associate, who added, “I gathered that he heard some bad vibes in his meetings with [U.S.] congressional delegations this week.”
In the 10 days since Netanyahu and President Barack Obama held a meeting at the White House, the Obama administration has made clear in public and private meetings with Israeli officials that it intends to hold a firm line on Obama’s call to stop Israeli settlements. According to many observers in Washington and Israel, the Israeli prime minister, looking for loopholes and hidden agreements that have often existed in the past with Washington, has been flummoxed by an unusually united line that has come not just from Obama White House and the secretary of state, but also from pro-Israel congressmen and women who have come through Israel for meetings with him over Memorial Day recess. To Netanyahu’s dismay, Obama doesn’t appear to have a hidden policy. It is what he said it was.***
“We’ve been watching the move in Congress, especially among certain high profile Jewish American members — people like Representative Gary Ackerman, Representative Robert Wexler, and Representative Howard Berman,” Ibish said. “What has occurred — and this has been greatly intensified by the election of Obama: There has been a growing sense of members of Congress who are well-informed on foreign policy … that peace is essential to the American national interest and the Israeli national interest. And there’s been a growing sense that the possibility of a two-state agreement is time-limited and that things like the settlements are incompatible with the goal of creating two states.”
You need to read the entire thing, but what is striking to me is that there seems to be a unified policy coming from the United States in regards to Israel. The Washington Post has more:
The road-map plan commits Israel to dismantling settler outposts and freezing “all settlement activity,” including building to accommodate what is known as “natural growth.” But the near-daily barrage of U.S. demands that Israel halt settlement growth has surprised Israeli officials, who argue that they greatly restrained growth under an unwritten 2005 agreement with the Bush administration. Under that deal, Israel was to stop providing incentives for settlers to move to the West Bank and was to build only in areas it expected to keep in future peace agreements.
But the continued growth even in those settlements — and an unwillingness by various Israeli governments to dismantle outposts — has left the Arab world doubtful that Israel would agree to a peace deal. The Obama administration appears to have calculated that pressing Israel on settlements will help demonstrate to the Arab nations that the United States is serious about pursuing peace, even at the risk of appearing to undermine Netanyahu’s nascent government.
If any of you have links to more about this, I would love to see them.