Monday, April 20, 2015


"For the first time in over 15 years, Israel may soon form a coalition government that is composed solely of right-wing factions. This could have major implications for settlement expansion. After all, both of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous governments (2009–2013 and 2013–2015) included center-left parties that opposed settlement expansion outside areas that—according to past negotiations and in any realistic future peace accord—would end up as part of Israel. That is, his governments allowed population growth to expand freely in the major settlement blocs that Israel is expected to keep, but they constrained growth in the smaller settlements beyond Israel’s security barrier, which would likely be part of any future Palestinian state. In the years to come, though, the United States might have to contend with a new policy. During Netanyahu’s past six years as prime minister, his settlement policy has been the subject of great controversy and contradiction. On the one hand, the United States and Europe frequently criticized the policy as expanding Israeli presence in the West Bank. On the other, right-wing constituencies in Israel lashed out at Netanyahu for doing the exact opposite—implementing a “quiet freeze” policy that effectively halted Israeli construction outside of Jerusalem and the major settlement blocs. Netanyahu’s policy allowed him to enjoy the best of both worlds—but also suffer the worst of them. On the positive side for Netanyahu, constant critiques by the international community (because there was considerable construction in East Jerusalem and the major blocs) solidified his position as the irreplaceable leader of the Israeli right leading up to his reelection. Meanwhile, his constraints on construction beyond the security fence kept alive the option of a two-state solution and encouraged peace hopefuls, such as State Secretary John F. Kerry, to stay engaged. On the negative side, Netanyahu’s equivocation bought him the distrust and scorn of many, in Israel and abroad, on the left and right. As a result, he is surprisingly unpopular for someone who just won a solid reelection victory".
Elliott Abrams and Uri Sadot, "Settling Settlements: Netanyahu's Real Policies, Before and After the Election". The Council on Foreign Relations. 16 April 2015, in
"Designed for great exploits, if I must die / Betrayed, captived, and both my eyes put out, Made of my enemies the scorn and gaze, To grind in brazen fetters under task / With this heaven-gifted strength? O glorious strength, Put to the labour of a beast, debased / Lower than bond-slave! Promise was that I Should Israel from Philistian yoke deliver! Ask for this great Deliverer now, and find him / Eyeless in Gaza, at the mill with slaves, Himself in bonds under Philistian yoke".
John Milton. Samson Agonistes (1666-1671), lines 32-42.
The comparison between Samson and Israeli premier Netanyahu was of course merely rhetorical in nature. Samson of course was a great hero of the Jewish Old Testament. Whereas Netanyahu of course is the wiliest and canny of opportunistic politicians. Which of course answers in full the nature of Elliott Abrams query (no doubt also a rhetorical query). As can be seen from his fully ambidextrous positioning in the just concluded Israeli elections, the Israeli premier will change his policies surface content to suit almost any occasion 1. That is of fairly obvious and self-evident by this point. What is not quite so evident, but is in fact without a doubt true, is that the Israeli premier will to the maximum extent possible endeavour to colonialise as much Palestinian land and resources as possible. The rights or the wrongs of the Palestinian case, do not in the least bother or hinder the Israeli premier in taking what he regards as policies which fits in with his own ultra-Zionist vision of the so-called 'Land of Israel'. The fact that almost the entire world regards such policies with active disdain if not worse does not in any fashion give pause to the Israeli premier. Much less his ultra-right-wing colleagues in the Israeli Knesset & Cabinet. In short, while Elliott Abrams may have convinced himself that despite himself Netanyahu is a 'moderate' who is endeavouring to balance the demands of the Israeli right-wing and the views of the vast majority of the international community, the reality of both the situation and Netanyahu's past and present argue to the contrary.
1. Simon Schama, "Will the real Netanyahu please stand up?" The Financial Times. 20th March 2015 in See also: José Ignacio Torreblanca, "The Israeli Spell". European Council on Foreign Relations. 26 March 2015, in


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