The Settlements Question

I can't see any conceivable peace in the region without an end to Israel's occupation of the West Bank and dismantling of the settlements. But it remains quite clear that Israel has absolutely no intention of doing this. If that weren't obvious by now, the latest reminder is in Haaretz today. The Obama administration's sin has been to actually mean what previous administrations have simply said. And so the gulf grows:

Jewish neighborhoods in east Jerusalem are included in the US demand that Israel halt "settlement" construction, including for natural growth, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told The Jerusalem Post during a press briefing on Monday. "We're talking about all settlement activity, yes, in the area across the line," he said, referring to neighborhoods in Jerusalem over the Green Line, or pre-1967 armistice line, in response to a question on where America's calls to halt construction in the settlements would be applied. Even so, Kelly had no immediate reaction to the Ministry of Housing and Construction's inclusion in the draft 2009-10 state budget of funds for the capital's Jewish Har Homa neighborhood or for one in the West Bank settlement of Ma'aleh Adumim.

On this theme, Tony Judt's op-ed yesterday is brutally frank reading; and Stephen Walt focuses on the failings of the Palestinian leadership here.