4:31 PM, Mar 14, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elliott Abrams writes:
Last week’s meeting between Benjamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama must have been tense. Two days before the meeting, the president publicly accused Israel of more “aggressive settlement construction . . . than we’ve seen in a very long time.” Only hours before the meeting, Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) published a report that cited a massive increase in settlement construction during 2013.
But the president had his facts wrong, and a careful reading of the CBS data proves it. The pace is not “aggressive,” and almost all of the construction took place within the major settlement “blocs” — areas that past negotiations have recognized would remain part of Israel (to be compensated for with land swaps).
The figures are online for anyone to see (the Web site is in Hebrew). Israel built 2,534 housing units last year in the West Bank. Of these, about a quarter (694) were in two major blocs near Jerusalem, Giv’at Ze’ev and Betar Illit, and 537 were in two other major blocs, Modiin Illit and Ma’ale Adumim, also near Jerusalem. These four, which will remain part of Israel, account for half of last year’s construction. They are not isolated outposts but instead are towns with populations in the tens of thousands, near the Green Line, as the 1949 armistice line and 1967 border are known.
The critical figure to monitor is the number of Israeli houses built outside such blocs in areas intended for the future state of Palestine. What the CBS data tell us on that question is that only 908 units were built last year in Israeli townships of 10,000 residents or fewer. And most of those units were built in settlement towns that are part of the major blocs. Units built in areas that would become part of Palestine number in the hundreds — and likely in the low hundreds. Given that about 90,000 Israelis live in the West Bank outside the blocs, that is approximately the rate of natural growth. So much for the president’s claim of “aggressive construction.”
Whole thing here.
The Ted Cruz-Rand Paul foreign policy split. Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Ted Cruz is not in a fighting mood. The Texas senator is sitting in a booth at the Capital Grille, an upscale restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue, about halfway between the Capitol, where Cruz works, and the White House, where many suspect he’d like to end up. His jacket is off, his light blue tie is tucked behind his crisp white dress shirt as he casually picks at the salmon filet on the dinner plate in front of him and sips a glass of Pinot Noir.
He’d be with McCain, not Obama, on Ukraine.Mar 24, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 27 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
Henry M. “Scoop” Jackson was a congressman and then senator from Washington state from 1941 until his death in 1983. Jackson was a traditional Democrat: liberal on domestic policy, strongly tied to the labor movement, and a hawk on national security matters. He was very much in the tradition of Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson, with all of whom he worked closely—as he did with George Meany and Lane Kirkland at the AFL-CIO, who were also Cold War hawks.
12:01 PM, Mar 13, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday, Secretary of State John Kerry made the point that his department is not just concerned with foreign affairs. The State Department tweeted the following comments of the secretary at the hearing:
11:31 AM, Mar 13, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Pollsters call it the “rally effect.” In a crisis, people tend instinctively, if abstractly, to support their leaders. The signature example being that, when the Bay of Pigs invasion ended in failure, John F. Kennedy’s poll numbers went up.
But blocked an Iranian information campaign.2:10 PM, Mar 11, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
If Israel believed that exposing an Iranian arms transfer to terrorists in Gaza was a public relations coup that might make the White House think twice about making a deal with the regime in Tehran over its nuclear weapons program, then Jerusalem has fundamentally misread the Obama administration. Perhaps just as ominously, it shows that the government of Israel doesn’t understand the new media environment.
It would send a message to Russia.4:15 PM, Mar 10, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Who’s surprised that the Obama administration, evolved, urbane and forward-looking, is having a hard time dealing with Vladimir Putin’s unreconstructed Cold War mentality in Ukraine? “We’re hoping that Russia will not see this as sort of a continuation of the Cold War," John Kerry said last week. Even before the Russian invasion of Crimea, Obama was warning of the dangers of seeing the world in terms of Great Power conflict. “We’re no longer in a Cold War,” the president said at the U.N. General Assembly in September. “There’s no Great Game to be won.”
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
On February 23, five days before Russia invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice appeared on Meet the Press and shrugged off suggestions that Russia was preparing any kind of military intervention: “It’s in nobody’s interest to see violence returned and the situation escalate.” A return to a “Cold War construct” isn’t necessary, Rice insisted, because such thinking “is long out of date” and “doesn’t reflect the realities of the 21st century.” Even if Vladimir Putin sees the world this way, Rice argued, it is “not in the United States’ interests” to do so.
Mar 17, 2014, Vol. 19, No. 26 • By LEE SMITH
From his place on the podium at AIPAC’s annual policy conference last week, Benjamin Netanyahu surveyed the Middle East. “On the one side stands Israel, animated by the values we cherish,” said the Israeli prime minister. And on the other side are Iran, Bashar al-Assad, and Hezbollah—“the forces of terror . . . steeped in blood and savagery.” There’s a “moral divide,” said Netanyahu, “that separates Israel from its enemies.”
11:07 AM, Mar 4, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
In a statement released this morning, House Speaker John Boehner pledged "to impose consequences on Russia for its hostile act" against Ukraine.
“The U.S. has a responsibility to stand up for freedom and democracy around the globe, and we have a responsibility to stand with the people of Ukraine in the face of Russia’s invasion. We will work with the Obama administration on measures to impose consequences on Russia for its hostile act," reads Boehner's statement.
Obama's scary interview.
11:35 AM, Mar 3, 2014 • By ELLIOTT ABRAMS
On the eve of the Netanyahu visit to Washington, President Obama gave a lengthy interview to Jeffrey Goldberg that shows a chief executive who has learned next to nothing about the world in his five years in office.
12:35 PM, Mar 2, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Florida senator Marco Rubio spoke about Ukraine, Russia, and American foreign policy this morning on Meet the Press:
5:39 PM, Mar 1, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Elliott Abrams writes:
Today’s news from Ukraine is grim. It’s increasingly clear that Putin believes he has an opportunity to move in the Crimea, and perhaps to take eastern portions of Ukraine for Russia, while destabilizing the new government in Kiev. So far the American reaction has been pathetically weak: a few words from Kerry and Obama but no action. Not even diplomatic action like a UN Security Council session or a meeting of the NATO Council, or a Kerry visit to Kiev.