But Obama's loudly-proclaimed intentions have led to a more clearly defined divide among the Israeli people: those who value America's support above all else and those who are committed to settlement of the West Bank above all else.And according to this article in today's Haaretz, that internal strife is bringing the settlement issue further into the limelight than it's been since The Disengagement in 2005. Basically, this latest development is that Israeli settlers are accusing the Israeli government of "colluding" with leftist Israelis against them. Notice how many times I used the word "Israelis" in that last sentence? That's because this argument is a family one. Leftist Israelis are pretty happy about Obama butting in to force the government's hand, but rightist Israelis would thank everyone to please mind their own business. I'm sure this is why the right wingers feel they're being colluded against but if the government is colluding with anybody, it's the settlers.
But the issue of settlements may be a smart litmus test of Israel's intentions, because it draws a clear line between those in Israel and among its supporters abroad who support a two-state solution, and those who don't. Obama is betting the ayes have it.
Basically Obama just went ahead and put that out there, and now he's sitting back and waiting for internal strife in Israel to make Netanyahu more agreeable to a two-state solution.
From this morning's article:
Settler representatives met with Defense Ministry officials earlier in the week in a bid to discuss a negotiated compromise on removing West Bank outposts. The state is interested in gaining settler acquiescence to voluntarily evacuate the outposts in exchange for the building of new neighborhoods in existing settlements, Army Radio reported.This whole dog and pony show is really amusing to those of us who know that the settlers are completely dependent on the government for their ability to settle anywhere in the West Bank. So the government arguing about whether they should or should live on this or that hilltop is just for show. It's a delay tactic, wrapped and tied with a bow, direct from Netanyahu to Obama.
Officials in the Yesha council of settlers told Army Radio they have no intention of discussing the voluntary removal of outposts.
But anyway, back to that internal strife I was talking about. The theory was that Obama wanted to see whether the majority of Israelis supported settlements more, or U.S. support more. Both right and left have been more active, vocal, and organized of late. But it's not yet clear which of them can claim greater numbers.