Talks between the United States and Israel over the possibility of a second ban on construction for Jews living east of the 1949 armistice line have failed. On Tuesday night, politicians from both countries will publicly admit that the freeze deal will not work, according to Channel 2 news.
Israel banned Jews in Judea, Samaria and much of Jerusalem from building any new structures, or additions to existing homes, for 10 months in an attempt to bring the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.
PA leaders ignored the gesture for several months, then began talks as the construction freeze drew to a close – and demanded that the freeze continue. When construction resumed – solely within the city limits of existing Israeli towns – they left talks and have not returned.
The U.S. pushed Israel to give in to PA demands for another freeze. Initial reports suggested that the U.S. would intervene to make a second, even stricter freeze worth Israel’s while, by offering a promise that there would be no pressure for a third freeze, and giving Israel several warplanes.
Later reports clarified that the U.S. was not willing to offer any of the commitments that had been suggested. One diplomat accused U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama of pulling a “bait and switch” on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, with Clinton making promises but then rescinding them after talks of a second freeze went public, citing Obama’s disapproval.
While freeze talks continued between Israel and the U.S., the PA found itself off the hook, with little pressure to return to the negotiating table. Israeli journalist Uri Elitzur had previous suggested that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas had planned all along for talks to break down, and was hoping not for a negotiated settlement, but rather, for international agreement on the borders of a PA state.
If that was Abbas’ plan, he saw some success this week, as Argentina and Brazil said they would recognize a PA state on all the land east of the 1949 armistice line. The territory in question is home to approximately 500,000 Jews, along with up to 1.5 million Arabs, and includes historically Jewish towns as well as the Temple Mount, the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and Rachel’s Tomb, Judaism’s first, second, and third most holy sites respectively.