June 24/09. The deep division between
Israeli and American views on the future of Judea and Samaria became more
evident yesterday when the office of PM Binyamin Netanyahu announced the
cancellation of a planned meeting with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell,
in France. The Prime Minister, on an official visit to Italy and France, was
scheduled to meet with Mitchell on Thursday in Paris.
The American envoy instead will now meet
with Defense Minister Ehud Barak during Barak's trip to Washington next week.
The official explanation for the
cancellation was the need to “clarify issues.”
Netanyahu directly Barack Obama’s stand
against the presence of Jews in Judea and Samaria in his recent speech. He
voiced determination to continue building in existing Jewish communities in
Judea and Samaria, but hoped to dampen the American response by
expressing willingness to accept a "demilitarized Palestinian state."
Instead, he has been met by
more extreme resistance from the Obama
administration. A U.S. State Department spokesman told reporters on
Monday that opposition to building for Jews in Judea and Samaria includes
established Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem, where thousands of housing units
are under construction.
These areas of Jerusalem, in which more
than 250,000 people live, were established up to 40 years ago after the entire
city was restored to Jewish sovereignty during the Six-Day War. The
neighborhoods were officially annexed to Jerusalem nearly 30 years ago.
Prime Minister Netanyahu has warned in
recent days that making a loud fuss over the “settlements” clouds what he
considers major issues towards a peace agreement between Israel and the PA.
Even if Washington wants to find a
compromise solution, President Obama’s announcement in his speech in Cairo
earlier this month has left the Arab world assuming that the U.S. is in its
The Arab world has made it clear that it
will not consider any compromise in the so called Arab Peace Plan, which calls
upon Israel to surrender all of Judea and Samaria, including the Old City and
Jerusalem neighborhoods, such as French Hill, Ramot and Gilo.