President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met on Monday to mend their frayed relationship over the Iran Deal so Bibi can secure an even more generous military aid package than the current $30 billion deal set to expire in 2017.
Yet as Netanyahu was on his way to make nice with Obama for a $2 billion increase per year in U.S. military financing, news broke that Israel is setting up 2,200 settlements units in the occupied West Bank.
Ironically, hypocrite Netanyahu said he is committed to a two-state solution yet clearly contradicts that notion by furthering the occupation of Palestinian land.
“I want to make it clear that we have not given up our hope for peace. We will never give up our hope for peace,” Netanyahu said.
“I remain committed to a vision of peace of two states for two peoples: a demilitarized Palestinian state that recognizes the Jewish state.”
According to Haaretz, “Israel's civilian planning committee for construction in the West Bank moved last week to green light some 2,200 new housing units within existing settlements and retroactively recognize two outposts, most likely in a bid to preempt legal attempts by Palestinians and rights groups to see the sites evacuated.”
This is not the first time Israel has undermined U.S. involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In 2010, Israel announced 1,600 new settlements right before Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Jerusalem. This sly move was inevitably perceived as an intentional blow to the Obama administration which had advocated Israel reduce settlement expansion in favor of peace talks.
Not only is Netanyahu further damaging peace prospects in return for a “consolation prize” for losing the Iran Deal, but he further solidifies his strong commitment against peace with a whopping surge in settlement expansion.
During Monday’s meeting, Obama could certainly use this daunting piece of news to stand up to Netanyahu and the Israeli occupation, but predictably the president won’t.
As Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, writes, Obama will undoubtedly hand over increased military aid without a blink of an eye, given the significant Jewish influence in American politics.
“The more cynical answer is that he is concerned to prevent losses to the Democratic Party in the next election that might come from some section of American Jews defecting toward Republicans who would certainly denounce such a demand. Others believe that some Democrats who supported the Iranian nuclear deal only did so once Obama promised these weapons to Israel, and they might join Republicans in undermining the deal should Obama stand up for an end to the Occupation.”
And Obama confirms that that he isn’t committed to Palestine but rather Israel.
“It’s no secret the security environment in the Middle East has deteriorated in many areas and, as I’ve said repeatedly, the security of Israel is one of my top foreign policy priorities and that has expressed itself not only in words but in deeds,” Obama said.
So much for change.
Banner image credit: Reuters