Though Gilo, Israel lies within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries and is geographically contiguous to surrounding Jewish neighborhoods that pre-dated the Six Day War, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Tuesday afternoon that, “We (the Obama Administration) are dismayed at the Jerusalem Planning Committee’s decision to move forward on the approval process for the expansion of Gilo in Jerusalem.”
This despite classification of Gilo, home to the Beit HaOr center for autistic children, the Ilan home for handicapped adults and 35 synagogues, as a neighborhood and not a settlement by The United States, as well as significant media outlets including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, and the Associated Press.
You may remember Gilo as a front line during the Second Intifada, withstanding over 400 attacks from Beit Jala between 2000-2002 until the Israeli government built a cement barrier and bulletproofed the outer row of homes. The shootings ceased entirely only after Operation Defensive Shield.
By failing to understand the difference between a neighborhood of Jerusalem and a “settlement”, Obama loses credibility to produce results when it counts. Furthermore, making settlement freeze a pre-condition for Palestinian negotiation has never before been an issue, but now it’s the central Palestinian excuse for failing to enter into negotiations. Finally, if the Arabs and Palestinians think the US will do their negotiating for them, they will never come to the table. They will just sit back and let the US pound concessions out of Israel in the name of future peace. The problem is that’s it’s never worked in the past, and I see no reason that the present strategy will produce any different results.