Speaking in Miami last week, President Obama addressed Israel’s security concerns within the context of the “new” Middle East. He said,“I'm actually confident that 10 years from now we're going to be able to look back and say that this was the dawning of an entirely new and better era.”
The statement came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to announce his “grand plan” in May, calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state with temporary borders as part of an interim peace agreement.
Netanyahu met resistance from his own Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, who said that immediate immediate action was necessary and sought clarity from the Prime Minister: ""A permanent agreement has a chance only if Israel would be willing to clearly say what would come after it....A permanent agreement has a chance only if Israel would be willing to clearly say what would come after it.”
So what might be the next Israeli move in the negotiation between peace and security? Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor told Army Radio on Monday that Netanyahu's Likud party would support the transfer of more West Bank land to Palestinian Authority control, but he added that the Palestinian goal of a state within 1967 borders was "unacceptable", since the "world had already recognized that the main settlement blocs in Judean and Samaria would stay in Israeli hands". That was a far-from-veiled declaration of a red line against any discussion of a total withdrawal of the controversial settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Netanyahu bolstered this with tough talk on security, telling soldiers during a tour of the Jordan Valley: "Israel's line of defense begins here. If rockets and missiles break out here, they will reach Tel Aviv, Haifa, and all over the state."
And in this this week’s cabinet meeting. Netanyahu, so subtly, put Israel’s concerns of security and the “unfair” treatment received from the international community within the context of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s cruelty against his own people. He said:
Until recently, Libya was a member of the UN Human Rights Council, the same Council that condemned Israel for its actions during Operation Cast Lead, in the Goldstone report; thus the absurdity, the lies and the hypocrisy ran amok. Today, the true faces of Libya and its ruler have been revealed. They all understand that Gadhafi is slaughtering his people. Perhaps they all do not yet recall what would have happened if Gadhafi had not given up his nuclear weapons project. I try to describe a world in which the Libyan ruler, the one who is massacring his own people and does not respect human rights, would be armed with nuclear weapons; who knows what might have happened.
So, according to Netanyahu, it is not “moral” to judge Israel and its “unique” problems in a UN where such cruel men have the right to vote. Netanyahu continued his separation of Israel's case from those of other countries:
Indeed, there is another regime that is slaughtering its people, trampling human rights and exporting terrorism around the world, and this regime is developing nuclear weapons. This regime is that of the ayatollahs in Iran... This is not just for the rights of the Iranian people but for the security of the entire world.
The balancing continued on Monday when the Government ordered the demolition of all illegal West Bank outposts built on private Palestinian land by the end of 2011, but began legalizing illegal outposts built on state land.
The construction of West Bank settlements has quadrupled since the end of the temporary freeze last autumn. According to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, more than 110 houses begun during the 10-month freeze were completed --- plus 1,175 housing units started before the freeze --- and the construction of more than 420 houses has begun since October 2010.