Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Obama May Need To Brush Up On Peace Efforts In The Middle East

During a remark to the press on June 15, Obama spoke about the need for both Israel and the Palestinian Arabs to make concessions:
On the Israeli side, that means a cessation of settlements. And there is a tendency to try to parse exactly what this means, but I think the parties on the ground understand that if you have a continuation of settlements that, in past agreements, have been categorized as illegal, that's going to be an impediment to progress. [emphasis added]
Dr. Aaron Lerner takes Obama to task on his reference to 'agreements' about the status of Israeli 'settlements'. He asks:
why isn't there someone on his team - or someone from the outside who
has access to him - who can explain to him that there are no "past
agreements" that categorize the settlement activity as "illegal".

That's "agreements". The Roadmap wasn't an agreement. Nor was the Annapolis
"Joint Understanding on Negotiations." The only "agreements" are the series
of Oslo "agreements" and none of them categorize any Israeli settlement
activity as "illegal"

In point of fact, the only construction activity that is illegal in the Oslo
agreements is Palestinian construction that is in violation of various
mostly security related restrictions.
If Obama intends to push the issue of Israeli concessions on freezing the settlements, he is going to have to clarify a number of issues about the past understandings between the US and Israel about the settlements--and demonstrate his own understanding of the issues as well.

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