Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has yet to grasp that George Bush is no longer president of the United States and building more settlements on the West Bank in defiance of international law will no longer be ignored. President Obama was planning to bring together leaders of Israel and Palestine in order to revive peace talks, but that is impossible as long as Israel builds and builds more houses on the West Bank and refuses to acknowledge the rights of Palestinians to land they were promised in the UN Partition Plan.
Special envoy George Mitchell increasingly is becoming more and more frustrated at the obstructionist behavior of Netanyahu whose idea of a “settlement freeze” is promising to continue building houses but not as many as originally planned. Mitchell knows he can not persuade Netanyahu to cease his games. Israel wants to build 2,500 homes, continue building in East Jerusalem, and may agree to a six month freeze before resuming building.
There is no evidence Israelis have any conception their settlement policy damages the safety and security of their nation. Obama will just have to be blunt– no settlement freeze, no further assistance from the United States, you are on your own.