Andrew gets nasty:
Those who say they are for a two-state solution also somehow always find a reason why, in this case, the US should bow to Israel again. Take my colleague Jeffrey Goldberg who - surprise! - writes this:
"It doesn't matter, then, if the Israelis build 900 housing units in Gilo or 900 skyscrapers: Gilo will be kept by Israel in exchange for a one-to-one land swap with Palestine. All "settlements" are not created equal: Better for the Obama Administration to talk tough to Israel about the settlements ringing Nablus, for instance, because these are communities whose existence makes it impossible to create a contiguous, viable Palestinian state."
In any case, who is talking about bowing to Israel? When any other American ally disagrees with Washington, does Andrew attack it so viscerally? Anyway, he's missing the point: Gilo isn't a settlement; no American administration has ever considered Gilo a settlement. Officials of the Palestinian Authority have recognized that Gilo will be part of Israeli West Jerusalem in a final status agreement, as part of a one-to-one land swap. I'm simply arguing that the focus of negotiations, and of American policy, should be on creating a viable, contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. This means, among other things, pressuring Israel to make concessions on West Bank settlements. Gilo is irrelevant to this cause, since it's not even in East Jerusalem.
For a more even-handed and reasonable understanding of what's happening on the West Bank today, see this David Ignatius column today:
I have a suggestion, drawn from a visit here and several days of conversations with Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. officials: Follow the lead of Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority and the man who's largely responsible for Ramallah's turnaround. He has drawn up a plan for a two-year transition to statehood. The United States should endorse this goal, explicitly, and call for an immediate start to negotiations about the details.
"Fayyad is the only game in town, but his plan isn't sustainable without a political process," says Martin Indyk, who heads the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution and organized a three-day conference in Jerusalem to discuss U.S.-Israeli issues.
Israelis may balk at some aspects of Fayyad's state-building plan, but that's what negotiations are for. It's a better alternative than the recent proposal from Abbas's allies for the United Nations to declare Palestinian statehood, which Netanyahu rightly rejects as a unilateral move. And it's certainly a better alternative than just letting the problem fester, which only benefits Hamas, the extremist group that controls Gaza.
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