The debate over the consequences of Israel refusing to extend the partial settlement slow-down continues. On al-Jazeera’s “Inside Story” I discussed the issue with the director of the Palestine Center in Washington DC, and a representative of the Fatah political party of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

In the meantime a new leaked letter reported (so far only in Hebrew) in the Israeli daily Ma’ariv indicates that President Obama’s effort to press Netanyahu to extend the “freeze” only for sixty days include offers of

  • new sophisticated weapons systems to Israel before any permanent peace deal
  • a commitment to prevent any effort to get Security Council recognition of a Palestinian state
  • a commitment to prevent the Palestinians from raising the settlement issue anywhere (such as the United Nations) outside of the US-brokered negotiations or to apply any other pressure on Israel
  • new security promises including far-reaching U.S. involvement in Israel’s security and future

If Israel refuses those new carrots, the Obama administration’s “sticks” include US recognition of the 1967 Israeli border (but with “territorial exchanges,” meaning annexation of settlements into Israel in exchange for pieces of empty land to be attached to the West Bank) as the starting point for future US-brokered discussions on a permanent agreement. Those sticks do NOT include any reference to cutting the current $30 billion ten-year commitment of military aid, ending U.S. protection of Israel in the UN and thus allowing it to be held accountable for war crimes in the International Criminal Court, or ending the US effort in the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency that prevents the IAEA from even requesting that Israel join the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Stay tuned.

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