Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is running rings around President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on issues pertaining to peace in the Middle East. Netanyahu’s strategy is simple- make outrageous demands and proclaim refusal to make any alterations in Israel policy in the West Bank, and then grudgingly give in on a point as though it indicates a desire for peace. The Israel prime minister announced an eight month freeze on West Bank settlement construction while refusing to budge an inch on housing in East Jerusalem. However, even as Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the IDF to issue a temporary freeze, at the same time he authorized construction of 28 new public buildings in settlements on the West Bank. There are reports Barak will ask the Israel Supreme Court for authorization to raze illegal settlements. One wonders if the court is asked for authorization on illegal housing in Israel?
French Foreign Minister Barnard Kouchner and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the freeze order was a step in the right direction, but neither asked exactly what is the direction that Netanyayu is heading. We suspect he will not abandon settlements in the West Bank, he will not abandon further construction and he certainly will not halt construction in East Jerusalem. So, where does that leave the Palestinian Authority? With a bag of dust!