Clinton, Obama Clash With Israel Over Settlement Freeze

I’ve been saying the Obama administration should make a serious push for a settlement freeze since Election Day, but I have to admit that I didn’t really think it would happen:

Hillary Clinton board a plane in the Middle East

Rebuffing Israel on a key Mideast negotiating issue, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that the Obama administration wants a complete halt in the growth of Jewish settlements in Palestinian territory, with no exceptions. President Obama “wants to see a stop to settlements — not some settlements, not outposts, not natural-growth exceptions,” Clinton said.

This is good. Unfortunately for us, we’re not in one of those periods of time when Israel has a government that’s probably actually not that sympathetic to the settlers but faces domestic political difficulties in cracking down on them. If that were the case, then strong words from the United States might be enough to force change in Israeli policy. But the current government is a coalition between the right and the far-right, and gives every indication of being extremely committed to settlement expansion. This, naturally, raises the question of what American policymakers are prepared to actually do about the fact that the world’s largest recipient of American aid seems to have so little interest in our perspective on crucial regional issues.