Is Washington Scaring Israelis Now?: Political sources in Jerusalem say that the Obama Administration intends to impose a permanent settlement on Israel and the Palestinians in less than two years. Conditions on Israel will include opening a Palestinian commercial interests office in East Jerusalem, an end to the razing of structures in Palestinian neighborhoods in the capital, stopping construction in Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, and suspending building in the neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.
Israeli officials are not only considering this as a marked shift from previous American administrations but also as a way to bypass direct negotiations between parties. [But do they ask this question to themselves: "Did previous Israeli governments build housing units in Arab-dominated parts of East Jerusalem?"]
With Washington telling West Jerusalem to leave "pre-conditions" aside and sit at the table with the Palestinian Authority, Benny Begin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's inner cabinet, described Washington's pressure as "bolstering Palestinian hardliners". Speaking to Israel Radio, he said:
It's bothersome, and certainly worrying. This change will definitely bring about the opposite to the declared objective. It will bring about a hardening in the policy of the Arabs and of the Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, Israeli government sources say it is likely that even if the current diplomatic crisis with the United States is resolved, Israel will soon face an even more serious row with the European Union.