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Israel's Settlement Stalemate: Is There No End in Sight?

Obama needs to clarify his position on the issue if there's any hope of disrupting the brutal status quo.

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Geoffrey Aronson of the Foundation for Middle East Peace in Washington, sympathetic to the Palestinians, writes in the foundation’s most recent newsletter that merely a freeze in settlement construction would require Israel to “undo the system by which the military establishment, the legislative and executive arms of the state, settlers, and public, private, and supranational communal organizations collaborate in the encouragement and expansion of settlements.”

Major elements in the state administration, defense forces, planning and budget agencies, and security programs and practices, plus the incentives to individuals and business to develop the settlements, would have to be undone.

Aronson concludes that even a real freeze would require “an undertaking so complex and requiring an Israeli political decision so profound that no Israeli government would undertake [it] except as a result of a broader decision to terminate [the entire occupation of the Palestinian territories].”

That is wholly impossible without a huge, internationally guaranteed reconstruction of the security relationships of Palestinians, Israelis and the surrounding Arab states, which is all but unimaginable. But then what is imaginable? Going on as things are? Clarification of Obama administration policy is essential.

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