What is the Obama administration’s policy on Israeli settlements and the prospects for a peace deal? The Times of London tries to sort it all out:
Four days before Hillary Clinton’s praise for Binyamin Netanyahu, a retired US Marine Corps commandant spoke at the first annual conference of a “pro-Israel, pro-peace” Washington think-tank.
America, he said, wants “a secure Jewish state” alongside a “viable, contiguous Palestine” that “ends the occupation that began in 1967”. The general was Jim Jones, President Obama’s National Security Adviser. The think-tank was J Street, set up to counter the traditionally hawkish American Israel Public Affairs Committee.
Its conference was packed with lobbyists, analysts and Administration staff quietly euphoric so many had come together in pursuit of a new approach to the peace process. The general’s use of “contiguous” and his reference to an occupation begun in 1967 appeared to reaffirm the Administration’s view that settlement building was an insuperable obstacle. Then Mrs Clinton went to Jerusalem.
Her claim that Mr Netanyahu has made “unprecedented” concessions will confuse her own staff, and at J Street, almost as much as enrage Palestinians.
Hey, I’m all in favor of confusing our adversaries on the international scene as much as possible. But I didn’t realize that the secretary of state agreed with me that many of those adversaries work in her department.