Will Obama be successful in stopping the growth of Jewish settlements?

The purpose of this item is to track and understand the question in the title. 

Here are the pertinent events that have transpired to date:
  1. Obama has said to Netanyahu that Israel is obligated to freeze settlements.
  2. Netanyahu has said "Freezing life would not be reasonable".
  3. June 4, 2009 Obama delivered the following statement at Cairo University: "At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's.  The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.    This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop."
  4. (not yet happened) Obama will give a speech in Israel on the topic.
Please post events, historical information, and viewpoints specifically related to the topic.  Hyperpartisan bloviating will be deleted.  This item is designed to provide us with a history.  So four or eight years from now we can look at this item and understand what actually happened regarding Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and Golan Heights.  And to understand what effect, if any, Obama's had on them.


  1. palestine
  2. israel
  3. history tracking
  4. settlements
  5. item 12047
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Seth says
A short Youtube presentation of what the term natural growth means

Seth says
As you might expect in Israel: Rightists launch anti-Obama campaign , there are vows to use power ministry to expand settlements, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak asks the White House to water down its remarks.  This view from the Jerusalem Post does not look very promising.  The question remain how strong will Obama's statements in Egypt be tomorrow, and will they be enough to budge Isralie public opinion?  All i hope is that they clearly put the subject of settelments on the table and state without the usual wink and nod a USA position.  Then, if that happens, we can ask: what effect does making this statement in a Muslim capitol have on the dialogue?   But, of course, he might water down his statements regarding the settelments - then i will be dissapointed in him.

Seth says

source: Excerpt regarding Israel and Palestine from president Obama's speech at Cairo University, Egypt June 4th regarding

The second major source of tension that we need to discuss is the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world.

America's strong bonds with Israel are well known.  This bond is unbreakable.  It is based upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied.

Around the world, the Jewish people were persecuted for centuries, and anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust.  Tomorrow, I will visit Buchenwald, which was part of a network of camps where Jews were enslaved, tortured, shot and gassed to death by the Third Reich.  Six million Jews were killed -- more than the entire Jewish population of Israel today.  Denying that fact is baseless, it is ignorant, and it is hateful.  Threatening Israel with destruction -- or repeating vile stereotypes about Jews -- is deeply wrong, and only serves to evoke in the minds of Israelis this most painful of memories while preventing the peace that the people of this region deserve.

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people -- Muslims and Christians -- have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.  For more than 60 years they've endured the pain of dislocation.  Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead.  They endure the daily humiliations -- large and small -- that come with occupation.  So let there be no doubt:  The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable.  And America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. 

For decades then, there has been a stalemate:  two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.  It's easy to point fingers -- for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks throughout its history from within its borders as well as beyond.  But if we see this conflict only from one side or the other, then we will be blind to the truth:  The only resolution is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security. 

That is in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest.  And that is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome with all the patience and dedication that the task requires.  The obligations -- the obligations that the parties have agreed to under the road map are clear.  For peace to come, it is time for them -- and all of us -- to live up to our responsibilities.

Palestinians must abandon violence.  Resistance through violence and killing is wrong and it does not succeed.  For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation.  But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.  It was a peaceful and determined insistence upon the ideals at the center of America's founding.  This same story can be told by people from South Africa to South Asia; from Eastern Europe to Indonesia.  It's a story with a simple truth:  that violence is a dead end.  It is a sign neither of courage nor power to shoot rockets at sleeping children, or to blow up old women on a bus.  That's not how moral authority is claimed; that's how it is surrendered.

Now is the time for Palestinians to focus on what they can build.  The Palestinian Authority must develop its capacity to govern, with institutions that serve the needs of its people. Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities.  To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist.

At the same time, Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel's right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine's.  The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements.    This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace.  It is time for these settlements to stop. 

And Israel must also live up to its obligation to ensure that Palestinians can live and work and develop their society.  Just as it devastates Palestinian families, the continuing humanitarian crisis in Gaza does not serve Israel's security; neither does the continuing lack of opportunity in the West Bank. Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be a critical part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress.

And finally, the Arab states must recognize that the Arab Peace Initiative was an important beginning, but not the end of their responsibilities.  The Arab-Israeli conflict should no longer be used to distract the people of Arab nations from other problems.  Instead, it must be a cause for action to help the Palestinian people develop the institutions that will sustain their state, to recognize Israel's legitimacy, and to choose progress over a self-defeating focus on the past.

America will align our policies with those who pursue peace, and we will say in public what we say in private to Israelis and Palestinians and Arabs.  We cannot impose peace.  But privately, many Muslims recognize that Israel will not go away.  Likewise, many Israelis recognize the need for a Palestinian state.  It is time for us to act on what everyone knows to be true.

Too many tears have been shed.  Too much blood has been shed.  All of us have a responsibility to work for the day when the mothers of Israelis and Palestinians can see their children grow up without fear; when the Holy Land of the three great faiths is the place of peace that God intended it to be; when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra --  as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them, joined in prayer. 

Seth says
In preparation for Netanyahu's speech this Sunday
source: Defense Minister Ehud Barak reported in the Jerusalem Post
Speaking to junior high school students in the Knesset, Barak said that Labor had joined the coalition based on the understanding that Netanyahu was committed to previous agreements and would see it as his duty to promote the peace process.

He told the children he hoped Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu would say "things that will allow us to continue on the path laid down by Obama," during a major policy address the prime minister is due to give on Sunday.

"You know the government is made up of several parties. Our party, the Labor party, joined the government, among other reasons, because we agreed that this government will abide by all agreements made by previous governments. That's why we think we should clearly state that we commend President Obama's initiative, that we are committed to the Road Map and that we want two states for two peoples, all this without compromising on our security concerns."

Mark de LA says
seth 2009-06-05 13:14:26 12047
Charles Krauthammer has a column about the Israeli settlements issue. And Joe Klein expresses the other side.
     Nice attempt to balance the issue with opposing commentaries.  I can almost believe either side. OTOH, Klein seems to focus some of his commentary against Krauthammer' writing rather than the issue. I also doubt that Klein's comments that Israel will be more secure living side-by-side with a Palestinian State which is prosperous will come true.  In fact, I believe that such would only strengthen the terrorists - more money more weapons. The UN, Arabs & Iranians would then be free to deal directly with an independent state & Israel would have nothing to say about it.  The issue of a "right of return" can always be abused, because who can enforce it?
     , I wonder if Obama or the Arabs could magically wave a wand & suddenly Israel & the Jews would all disappear, what would the Muslim World do for fun?

Seth says
MR 2009-06-29 09:02:51 12047
Why shift the conversation from land to votes - that sounds pretty stupid to me.  If it were up to votes, Israel would be voted out of the Middle East - permanently! If it were up to votes then China & India would outweigh everyone else. Nobody is holding Hamas to stopping their rockets.

It's not me shifting, this has been going on for a long time.  I did read an article about this but, sorry, I can't lay my hands on it at the moment.  The gist was that there are long term strategies going on here leading to a referendum which might make a difference in the final borders.  It is still all about land and where people can live, but the process going into the future is a complex one.  As usual Wikipedia has an excellent article on the subject.  Any way you slice it, growing settlements work against the peace process, just like the Hamas rockets work against it too.  Obama has called for both to stop. 

Seth says
MR 2009-06-29 07:46:43 12047
Here is a different picture of what a Jewish settlement is like in the West Bank.
Rachel Abrams: ... All of this scratched and scrabbled out of the desert from nothing at all by an idealistic bunch of pioneers who settled here in 1979.

Here’s what you can’t see here: Palestinians. Not a single one. Here’s why: There aren’t any within ten miles. They weren’t robbed, displaced, or dishonored by the building of this settlement or that outpost. They just never lived here at all.

...The whole picture is rather poetic if you read the blog.
OTOH, there is a different picture of how Obama is seems to be dictating Palestine-Israel terms:
Aron Klein: The Obama administration told the Palestinian Authority the "golden era" of Israeli construction in sections of Jerusalem and the strategic West Bank will soon come to an end, a top PA negotiator told WND.

"The U.S. assured us that for the first time since 1967, we are going into a period where there will not be allowed a single construction effort on the part of the Israelis in the settlements, including in Gush Etzion, Maale Adumum and eastern Jerusalem," said the negotiator, speaking from Ramallah on condition his name be withheld.


Couple of points from the other side.  (1) Obama is not dictting terms, just holding Israel to terms that the already agreed upon, (2) It's not a matter of who was there on the land, its a matter of the votes.  Imagine Mexicans taking up residance in the Mojave desert and being able to vote for California to become a provernce of Mexico.

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