Israeli officials said Friday that the government would authorize construction of hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements in advance of a building freeze of six to nine months aimed at restarting peace talks with the Palestinians. The announcement prompted a sharp rebuke from the White House and the Palestinian leadership.-- provoked a recollection of Leon Wieseltier's observation last week:
I see no evidence in Netanyahu of Begin-like or Rabin-like greatness. Politics will always keep him from history. His diplomatic strategy is to postpone diplomacy or to bog it down. He will prevaricate--proposing freezes, denying freezes--on behalf of the status quo, in which the time is never right for the recognition that the Jewish state may be destroyed not by a Palestinian state but by the failure to allow one to come into being. There is nothing visionary about this. A look at the fertility rates on the west side of the Jordan River tells the tale. The continued appeasement of the settlers, and the continued alienation of the Palestinians, and the continued cartographic distortion of the West Bank, are in no way good for Israel. It is cynical and short-sighted to suggest otherwise.