At first glance, it would seem the U.S. has given Israel a 90-day moratorium to build settlements in the West Bank in exchange for 20 invisible F-35 aircraft. In addition, the U.S. will ensure the Israelis have the green light to build freely in Palestinian territory at the end of the 90 days, as well as a commitment by Washington to veto any U.N. resolution that supports the unilateral declaration of independence by the Palestinian Authority. If the proposed deal is sealed, it will be an operation of enormous profitability for the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Israel would receive advance payment for a deal that has not yet begun negotiations (save for the acceptance of the moratorium), which until the deal is sealed, would halt all construction in the occupied territory. The Palestinians are demanding further negotiations.
Netanyahu does not necessarily want peace, but rather process; that is, to keep the Palestinians sitting at a negotiating table at which no one is willing to concede. This would then permit him to continue governing with a right-wing reluctance to any agreement without a provision to waive the entire West Bank. This is part of what has become a normal asymmetric principle of balance in this negotiation: The idea of “what's mine is mine and not the subject of any negotiations, while whatever territory we negotiate to split is yours.” Israel exists with the premise that it is part of the occupied Palestinian territories, and that these territories will never be returned (this is the case for East Jerusalem and the oldest settlements built in the West Bank). The Palestinian Authority is part of international law, which recognizes the entire West Bank as its own (including East Jerusalem) and is willing to negotiate the exchange of territories. However, they will not come to the table with the territories mapped out in Washington with Netanyahu.
The Israeli right has grown recently with the help of a Republican victory in the midterm elections and Netanyahu's ability to entangle and extract oil from Washington. The far right also holds their own: The previous moratorium of 10 months has been threatened on hundreds of occasions. However, any threat to these terms has not yet reached Jerusalem, where the construction of housing has continued for Israelis while expelling the native Arab population.
One of the differences between the strength of Israel and Palestine is the role of their respective radicals. While the Israeli extremism grows, the Palestinian extremism decreases. The Israelis who oppose the two states and the moratorium on the construction of settlements assert their voice and strength to reject more U.S. concessions, while those who resist concessions on the Palestinian side are more focused on weakening President Mahmoud Abbas.
The agreement outlined between Hillary Clinton and Netanyahu leaves Palestinians without a claim to negotiations. There is a construction freeze, but it isn’t total: They continue building 3,000 homes already started and Jerusalem doesn’t enter the agreement. The Palestinian deterrent weapon of United Nations recognition is left deactivated by Washington’s compromise to use its veto in the Security Council.
In addition to “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable,” Israel also asserts that “the more we delay in negotiating, the better, because I will continue occupying your territory, which will increase my ability to demand and will leave you each time with less room for negotiation.” Indeed, it would seem it simply isn’t possible to make things more difficult for President Abbas. Washington has been offering proposals suggesting ways to save the Palestinian demands, but they have been lost in the content. Additionally, the really strange thing in all this is the fact that the Palestinians still haven’t thrown in the towel.
There has also always been a footnote, naturally in favor of Israel, in this type of agreement. The date beginning the new moratorium would be Sept. 26, which is when the last moratorium ended. Since then, in a period of approximately 50 days, Israel has laid the foundations for 1,126 more homes and prepared the lots to construct 526 others, according to The Jerusalem Post. Naturally, Hillary Clinton made the offer to Netanyahu last week, but the Israeli cabinet continues to delay the response as long as possible. Of course, Israel knows the longer they wait to approve the deal, the longer Israel will continue to build.