Beneath the media frenzy over Netanyahu’s refusal of a settlement freeze against “natural growth” (barf), there lies an amazing number of productive changes between Israel and her neighbors. IDF forces pulled out of four major West Bank cities and lifted a large number of checkpoints, turning them over to the U.S.-trained Palestinian army. Said Palestinian army is proving its mettle in cracking down on terror cells. In the biggest surprise of all, European sources say Gilad Shalit is about to turned over to Egypt in advance of Israel’s release of imprisoned children, women and Hamas legislators.
The leading stories of Netanyahu’s resistance on most fronts is not doing justice to significant on-the-ground improvements in Palestinian life nor to the near-unimaginable freedom for 3-year Hamas captive Gilad Shalit. It is with begrudging acknowledgment that I note Netanyahu had to approve these measures. Is this a sleight of hand concession from him, wherein he saves face with his coalition by resisting a settlement freeze but delivers Palestinian needs on other fronts?
The magic is reportedly credited to several approaches decried by the right-wing and Bush. The most important is improved U.S. relations with Syria (and Egypt) brought extra pressure to bring Hamas to the negotiating table. A regional approach that deals with all actors together allows gains in one corner to benefit all. To stonewall Syria and punish the Palestinian populace, yet expect results from Hamas failed. It also should be seriously noted that negotiating with Hamas delivered more results than bombing them.
Personally, I am deeply encouraged. I am not letting the official rhetoric from Netanyahu distract from the progress on the big picture. Thank God for Obama, is all I have to say, and expanded diplomacy seems to be bringing in the results we need.
May Gilad come home, may the Palestinian prisoners come home. May we finally be free of this decades-long stalemate.
Kung Fu Jew is a signatory to the “We’ve Got Your Back, Mr. President” pro-peace process campaign. Sign online, on Facebook or Twitter.