The Cycle Continues
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned his back on international pressure and allowed the settlement freeze to expire at midnight yesterday, which allows for construction of new Jewish settlements in the Gaza strip and West Bank, but on the condition that “they don’t make a big deal of it” according to one anonymous source.
Referring to the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel’s Netanyahu made this statement just minutes after construction resumed:
“I call on president Abbas to continue with the good and honest talks we have just embarked upon, in an attempt to reach a historic peace agreement between our two peoples,”
On Sunday, Mr Abbas announced he would walk away from the negotiation table if the settlement freeze was not continued. “If Israel does not continue the settlement freeze, the peace process will be a waste of time,” he stated.
All parties are in contact with US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and other officials, including Tony Blair, officers from the EU, Russia, and the United Nations. “We keep pushing for the talks to continue,” is the joint consensus.
The balance hangs on how Abbas will react. No word has been heard from Abbas or the Palestinian Authority yet.
Both sides play a part in the perpetuation of this cycle, but today Netanyahu has displayed an arrogance that plays right into the perspective many hold of Israel’s disregard for international opinion.
Nearly half a million Jews live in more than 100 settlements in the occupied Gaza strip and West Bank, which Israel seized in 1967. All are considered illegal by international law, but Israel disputes that fact.
The last attempt at peace talks collapsed in December of 2008, when Israel marched tanks into the Gaza Strip in an attempt to cease persistant rocket attacks.