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The Palestinians, predictably, have rejected Netanyahu’s partial freeze on settlement construction. The issue was insignificant for them in the first place, but continued construction in East Jerusalem made it all the more irrelevant.

Netanyahu insisted on East Jerusalem construction in order to torpedo the peace talks. Everyone in the government understands that Israel will abandon Greater Jerusalem’s Arab villages and deep Jewish enclaves under any peace treaty with the Palestinians. The ongoing construction is insignificant, and it is not worth any political trouble.

The world will continue to blame Israel for settlement construction, even if it is only in Jerusalem.

Obama so far has won: the Israeli government submitted to his demand for a settlement freeze. In the best-case scenario, the freeze is a payoff for Obama’s approval of an Israeli attack on Iran.

Netanyahu and Barak are hard-pressed to reconcile their willingness to exchange Shalit for 1,100 terrorists with their numerous statements condemning negotiations with kidnappers—that is, negotiations conducted by other cabinets.

According to Barak, Israeli acceptance of exchanges must not be rescinded retroactively, and must apply to the corporal already in captivity.
According to Netanyahu, he is bound by Olmert’s promises, but this will be the last exchange.

Are the voters not sick of their lies?

In a public letter, captured Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard and his wife protest the immense efforts the government expends on behalf of Shalit—but not Pollard.

American Jews do not understand that Shalit comes from a well-connected leftist family, while Pollard, to the government, is just another foreign Jew, aliyah cannon fodder.

It would be so easy to bring Pollard back: just arrest a few American spies in Israel—scores of them work here openly—and exchange them for Pollard.

November 2009
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