Israel lays the groundwork for talks by spitting in the Palestinians faces

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Mark Regev

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Mark Regev

Today the BBC reported that U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden has condemned Israel over a controversial settlement building project, claiming that its approval undermined trust in the peace process. Later, on BBC Radio 4’s Today program, I listed to the Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, Mark Regev, respond to criticism of the settlement activity  Mr. Regev claimed that the decision to allow the recent bunch of settlements was not under the government’s control as this was a local decision taken by a local council and…what can you do?


The building of Israeli settlements on occupied land is illegal under international law. Israel’s national government is therefore responsible and should not even allow it’s local councils the power to take such decisions.

As usual Mr. Regev couched his replies in reasonable sounding language which could fool a casual listener. He slipped in the idea that this Israeli government has gone further than any other and announced a temporary moratorium on settlement building.

Firstly there is no moratorium if Israel is still approving more settlements.

Secondly, if the national government were able to enforce a moratorium in the West Bank then it must also have the power to enforce a moratorium in East Jerusalem and so Mr. Regev’s argument that the national government could do nothing is complete BOLLOCKS.

Thirdly – So what! If you push a people off their land and then begin settling the remaining land that they have left and then announce that you are having a temporary moratorium on new building this is merely refraining from behaving badly not something to be proud of.

Joe Biden, At last, The U.S. criticises Israel

Joe Biden – At last the U.S. realises the bloody obvious

If someone were to break into Mr. Regev’s house and begin stealing his possessions and then announce proudly that it had stopped stealing from his kitchen this would be an insult.

And that is exactly the point. Israel has deliberately contrived to insult the Palestinians just when talks are due to begin again. The Israelis used to accuse Yassa Arafat of never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity but we have seen time and again how, every time that the Israel is manoeuvred into starting talks with the Palestinians, the Israelis begin by spitting in the faces of the Palestinians.

Well done Vice-President Joe Biden for your forthright criticism of Israel. After 60 years it’s a bit late but welcome none the less. However, I wonder whether the United States can maintain the pressure and whether Israel cares.

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