Clinton and Netanyahu are inviting the Palestinians to dinner
It’s called “biting the hand that feeds you,” and pretty much everyone agrees that’s the worst, most ungrateful form of behavior in existence. The Israeli government is currently blaming the Palestinians of this offence, on the premise that the natives should gratefully seize and relish every bone tossed their way, even when – as in this case – it amounts to nothing more nor less than a brittle, choking chicken bone.
Last week, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met in Washington, where they had “a friendly and productive exchange of views on both sides.” The outcome was a vague and still unformalized American proposal calling for “a 90-day extension of the moratorium on building West Bank settlements in return for a series of incentives including the sale of 20 new fighter jets to Israel and certain guarantees in United Nations discussions.” Specifically, the plan prevents “the Palestinians from demanding another extension of the West Bank construction freeze at the end of the 90-day period, and would take off the agenda completely any building moratorium in East Jerusalem,” along with “an American promise to veto any anti-Israeli proposals in the United Nations for more than a year,” which “would foil the Palestinian plan to get either the Security Council or the General Assembly to recognize a unilateral declaration of statehood.”
Well, what’s there not to love about this deal? From the Israeli point of view, nothing at all. So imagine the outrage when the Palestinian side failed to cheer on cue. Today an unnamed but supposedly top-level Israeli government official complained that the Palestinian Authority is insidiously seeking to thwart this sweetheart deal. “The Palestinians claim that the understandings reached between Secretary of State Clinton and Prime Minister Netanyahu benefit Israel too much and deny the Palestinians leverage and bargaining chips,” the incredulous official sniffed to journalists. “The political benefits that Israel would receive as part of the package of understanding with the U.S. are not acceptable to the Palestinians because they ease some of the pressure on Israel and make it impossible for [the Palestinians] to apply their strategy of evading direct talks and of trying to force Israel into an arrangement through UN resolutions.” Oh, the humanity!
It's amazing that even this agreement was possible in Washington, what with the new House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Tel Aviv) promising Netanyahu in advance of the meeting that "the new Republican majority will serve as a check on the Administration" when it comes to Israel. But even if the deal goes through with Washington, Netanyahu’s chances of pushing even this proposal through his cabinet are extremely thin, dealing as he is with right-wing coalition partners whose opposition to even the most absurdly brief hiatus in building settlements on Palestinian land is greater than his own, if such a thing is possible.
In fact, there’s only one thing left they can agree on: if the deal falls through, the Palestinians are to blame. I mean, think of all the great things they could do in those ninety days! You know, like take a vacation in some nice spot or start that novel they've had in the back of their minds. I guess there’s just no pleasin’ some people.