There’s significant room to ask whether or not these increasing calls from Washington for a settlement freeze are a big deal or not. They’re a big deal for sure in that it’s a huge departure from the Bush administration and a sea change in the way Congress is willing to stick its neck out to challenge the conservatives on Israel (a large number of people in the States, including the Jews in the Democratic party). And not that it’s not a big signal to Bibi’s government either: messages of support mixed with messages of “shape up on your obligations” should be coming in loud and clear.
But the settlement freeze itself might not be the most noteworthy of diplomatic gestures. From Bush, it would have been phenomenal! But from Kerry and Biden, this is the most basic of several grander suggestions, including finally mumbling something about two states for two peoples, engaging diplomatically again, and accepting a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.
Thankfully, the settlements are the least controversial request. And there’s every evidence that on this issue Netanyahu will behave like the proverbial horse dragged to the waterhole and told to drink. But it’s one of many changes in American foreign policy (THANK THE LORD ALMIGHTY) and it’s the easiest one to swallow. So drink, Bibi, drink. If you do it right, you can claim “The American’s made me do it,” and preserve your political skin while still advancing peace in the region.
P.S. BTShalom, J Street and Americans for Peace Now all sent action alerts TODAY supporting Obama’s diplomacy. Thanks for reading our blog, and of course for commenting if you like what’s written here. But seriously? Call your Representatives and tell them yourself.