Skip to main content

Israel delays settlement bids during Kerry visit

For the duration of the US secretary of state’s latest visit, the Israeli government will avoid announcing new bids for settlement construction.
A general view of the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim is seen near Jerusalem January 3, 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered a gloomy assessment of peace prospects with the Palestinians on Thursday as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry began his 10th visit to the region in pursuit of a deal. Leaders from both sides have to address core issues of the decades-old conflict, such as the question of borders, security, refugees and the status of Jerusalem. REUTERS/Ammar Awad (WEST B

Israel, according to an anonymous Israeli official interviewed by The New York Times, will delay “an expected announcement of bids for new settlement construction for the next few days while [US] Secretary of State John Kerry is in the region” to avoid "a potential high profile clash over the contentious issue.”

So, from now until Jan. 5, Palestinians can be assured that no bidding for houses in East Jerusalem will take place, due to an apparent understanding between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and his Housing Ministry for the duration of Kerry’s visit. The question is, to what extent does the Israeli government underestimate people’s intelligence? Do they really think that this is in deference to Kerry’s visit? Do the Israeli official and his government believe that any serious discussions, let alone negotiations, can take place with such a mindset?

To underline what I consider a provocation, The New York Times quoted the Israeli official as adding, “We will respect John Kerry and not act to spite him.” I wonder, can this be true?

Rubbing salt into the wound, the official continued, “A day here or there makes no difference.” So perhaps the only serious deterrence is for Kerry to get a permanent residence in Jerusalem. It appears that in the mind of Netanyahu, the couple days’ postponement of a settlement increase is solely to avoid temporarily embarrassing Kerry.

Here again is an insight into why the ongoing “negotiations” are futile, and therefore, if there is to be a serious resolution of the conflict, the US administration must take measures to ensure that the settlements it has repeatedly called illegitimate are dismantled, not just frozen.

Yes, a day or two will make no difference, but the thrust of this statement encapsulates the mindset of a conqueror.

If the Palestinian Authority is not jolted by this Israeli approach to Kerry’s visit, then providing a license to what Oslo has started will continue.

This is the time for the Palestinian Authority to make clear that it takes seriously the UN resolution that defined its status as one of "military occupation” and will negotiate accordingly. Then, negotiations will be consequential.

A framework agreement at this moment will become a further and serious obstacle to an authentic peace settlement rather than what Kerry sees as the first step toward it.

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Free

The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.

Free

What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing
Expert

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to pro.support@al-monitor.com and we'll onboard your team.

What's included:
Our Expertise AI-driven

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

All premium Industry Newsletters - Monitor the Middle East's most important industries. Prioritize your target industries for weekly review:

  • Capital Markets & Private Equity
  • Venture Capital & Startups
  • Green Energy
  • Supply Chain
  • Sustainable Development
  • Leading Edge Technology
  • Oil & Gas
  • Real Estate & Construction
  • Banking

Start your PRO membership today.

Join the Middle East's top business and policy professionals to access exclusive PRO insights today.

Join Al-Monitor PRO Start with 1-week free trial