The big news in the U.S.-guided Israel/Palestine talks is that a renewal of a so-called “settlement freeze” in the West Bank is basically dead. Ethan Bronner has a post-mortem of sorts in the New York Times (12/9/10), where he describes the backdrop for the previous round of negotiations:
The Israelis had insisted that the only way forward was through direct talks. Yet when those talks began in September, the Israelis engaged in little substance. The Palestinians had insisted that there could be no direct talks without a settlement freeze, yet they waited nine months into the last such freeze before agreeing to negotiate.
Bronner added that a “second settlement freeze was viewed as unnecessary and politically painful to achieve.”
But the first “freeze” wasn’t a freeze at all–though it was often portrayed that way. I have an articlein the new issue of Extra! that lays out the case. (Subscribe today and you canread the piece.)
What’s especially interestingis the fact thatBronner once wrote one of the few pieces explaining that the freeze was mostly fiction. As he explained back in July:
an examination of the freeze after more than seven months suggests that it amounts to something less significant, at least on the ground. In many West Bank settlements, building is proceeding apace. Dozens of construction sites with scores of Palestinian workers are active.
To be able to write these facts once, and then somehow forget them, takes a special kind of talent.