Thursday, June 4, 2009

natural growth

This article from Ethan Bronner lays out the dispute between the Netanyahu and Obama administrations pretty well.
A second senior Bush administration official, also speaking anonymously, said Wednesday: “We talked about a settlement freeze with four elements. One was no new settlements, a second was no new confiscation of Palestinian land, one was no new subsidies and finally, no construction outside the settlements.”

He described that fourth condition, which applied to natural growth, as similar to taking a string and tying it around a settlement, and prohibiting any construction outside that string.
Those same parameters are stated in the article by several sources, though there appears to be disagreement over whether they were formalized to the extent that they should be seen as binding on anyone (namely, at this point, Obama). And apparently there has been at least some construction outside those guidelines anyway, but the article makes it seem minimal. The remaining point of contention is natural growth within the settlements.
On Monday, Mr. Netanyahu said Israel “cannot freeze life in the settlements,” calling the American demand “unreasonable.”
Given the parameters above, we're basically talking about people with kids moving to bigger houses and kids moving out of their parents houses without having to move to a different city. Netanyahu isn't out of line to talk about "freezing life." And if Israel has been limiting growth to within those parameters, good on them. I can't imagine the objection to that being too strong. Except if it involves certain settlements.

For Israel, those settlements that are most likely to remain Israeli after peace agreements are the most important places to allow natural growth today. I can see that no one should want to let Israel unilaterally decide which settlements those are. But there are settlements that have been consistently spoken about in negotiations to remain Israeli. Even outside a mutually agreed upon framework, natural growth in those areas might be opposed but is hardly treacherous.

On the other hand, Israel is small enough that moving to a different city doesn't really mean moving far away, so I don't understand the Israeli insistence on natural growth, either. The burden of a freeze on natural growth might mean freezing life within the settlements but not in a way that the disruptions to individuals' lives can't be accomodated for.

What am I missing? I'm kind of at a loss to explain the heat generated over natural growth.

No comments: