US Abandons Efforts to Persuade Israel Settlement Freeze

Article first published as US Abandons Efforts to Persuade Israel to Freeze Settlements on Blogcritics.

The United States has decided to abandon its efforts of persuading Israel to freeze its settlement construction, saying the tactic has failed. Palestinians’ leadership in West Bank, Palestinian Authority has been demanding total settlement freeze in order to attend direct talks with Israel under the US mediation. Israel’s self-imposed 10-month settlement freeze expired in November last week due to which the direct talks also ended as Israel refused to extend the freeze on illegal settlement construction in occupied territories for 90 more days as requested by the US.

The US offered a proposal with incentives such as supply of jet fighters and security guaranteesIsraeli settleents in West Bank in return to a 90-day extension of a previous 10-month settlement freeze. Israel cabinet rejected the proposal. On the other hand, Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu offered to freeze the construction if the Palestinians recognised Israel as a Jewish State, but Palestinian Authority dismissed the idea.

It is not clear what the US is planning. Israel Defence Minister Ehud Barak said the talks with the Americans were postponed because the US was busy dealing with the result of Wikileaks leakage of diplomatic cables. However, this is denied by the US state department spokesperson P J Crowley. The US made clear that abandoning efforts for settlement freeze does not mean giving total efforts. It said it recognised there was a need to change the tactics to resume the peace talks.

Maen Rashid Areikat, PLO’s chief representative in the US said Israel should be made to comply with the International laws and resolutions, adding that PLO did not change its position on settlement construction. However, BBC reported that the negotiators would be in Washington next week and the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton would give a speech on Middle East.

If PLO bends to the US pressure tactics, it could be a suicidal to the Palestinians’ interests. The US has been weakened on international forums such as G20, APEC and IMF. The EU and Emerging Market Economies such as China and Brazil are increasingly defying pro-US tactics on international relations. As a result, it seems the US is attempting to retain its supremacy with the help of Israel by integrating Middle East and South Asia as a battlefield. Israel could become a crucial partner to the US in future in its efforts to ascertain its hegemony on global arena of economic, military and political relations. There are plenty of chances for the Israel’s chances to be strengthened further because of the US’ weakening conditions.

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