Past Israeli governments have indicated their intent to build in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line, but they simultaneously gave the U.S. a political strategy to present to the Palestinians. Netanyahu’s government is backtracking on all fronts and offering nothing to the Americans or the Palestinians.
The American president doesn’t needto be strong to offend an Israeli prime minister over a matter such as settlements. And despite the hopes of some in Israel, it doesn’t appear that the U.S. Jewish community will go out of its way to defend Israel on the settlement issue either.
“Netanyahu should have taken into account the change within the American Jewish community,” Dov Weisglass, a senior adviser to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, told the MESS Report. “Their support for Israel is decreasing and they will defend Israel in the face of the administration only on matters where there is a real threat to Israel. I have serious doubt that U.S. Jews see the Netanyahu government’s territorial aspirations in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] and the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem as an existential matter.”
The Sharon government and the Americans had worked a clear political outline, by which the territorial dispute between Israel and the Palestinians would be resolved according to the current demographic reality. In other words, Jewish population centers including Ma’ale Adumim and others surrounding Jerusalem, the Jerusalem Jewish neighborhoods over the Green Line, the Etzion settlement bloc and the Ariel settlement would be remain part of Israel – and what is outside of those blocs would be under Palestinian control.
The current Israeli government, which was founded on different guiding political principles and does not recognize the Road Map, essentially abandoned the doctrine outlined in Bush’s letter. Israel brought the subject of settlement construction back to square one – and the Americans obliged them by returning to their default stance that Israel cease building beyond the Green Line.