Some papers have been reporting for a couple of days that Israel is complaining that the new administration is going against previous agreements made with other administrations particularly G.W. Bush’s.

Today, the NY Times began to cover this story in earnest. The question is, if a former administration commits to something, is a future administration bound by the commitment. Obviously, if it isn’t, then no administration in the US can make commitments to any body or group, at least internationally, with any confidence that the US will adhere to that commitment several years later.

Dov Weissglas, who was a senior aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote an opinion article for Yediot Aharonot, a mass-selling newspaper, on Tuesday in which he laid out the agreements he said had been reached with Bush officials.

He said that in May 2003 he and Mr. Sharon met with Elliott Abrams and Stephen Hadley of the National Security Council and came up with the definition of settlement freeze as “no new communities were to be built; no Palestinian lands were to be appropriated for settlement purposes; building will not take place beyond the existing community outline; and no ‘settlement encouraging’ budgets were to be allocated.”

He said that Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, signed off on that definition later that month and that the two governments also agreed to set up a joint committee to define more fully the meaning of “existing community outline” for existing settlements.

Moral of the story? Get it in writing.

Oh wait, they sort of did.

President Bush presented Mr. Sharon in April 2004 with a letter stating, “In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli populations centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.” That, Mr. Weissglas said, was a result of his earlier negotiations with Bush officials acknowledging that certain settlement blocs would remain Israeli and open to continued growth.

There is also confirmation from at least one senior Bush official.

Mr. Abrams, the former Bush official who was part of those negotiations, wrote his own opinion article in The Washington Post and seemed to endorse the Israeli argument. He wrote, “For the past five years, Israel’s government has largely adhered to guidelines that were discussed with the United States but never formally adopted: that there would be no new settlements, no financial incentives for Israelis to move to settlements and no new construction except in already built-up areas. The clear purpose of the guidelines? To allow for settlement growth in ways that minimized the impact on Palestinians.”

Mr. Abrams acknowledged that even within those guidelines, Israel had not fully complied.

In other words, folks, the kindergarten kids got permission from the teacher to build Legos but the new teacher doesn’t want to abide by the old teacher’s rules and wants to take the Legos away because he thinks it’ll get Ahmad to stop trying to beat up Max since Max tends to kick Ahmad in the balls when he gets pissed off.

Okay, bad analogy, but it was fun to write.

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  • Not only fun to write, but I think it’s a pretty apt analogy, too (unfortunate as that may be).

    And no, tm, I’m not trying to disagree with you just for the sake of it…

  • Glad you can take an apparent major shift in US policy so lightly, Middle.

  • What’s the problem here?

    Even the SAME administration has a right to renege/change its policies in response to changed realities.


  • I am not sure that Obama can just piss away these old arrangements and certainly not without serious consequences to the word of any future American administration when it makes backroom deals with allies or foes.

    You’re only as good as your word.

    Then again, I suspect the Israelis probably fudged a little with abiding by all of the restrictions the Americans agreed to in accepting the large settlement blocs and so the Americans can probably respond that they can breach old agreements because of Israeli violations.

    Either way, it’s sad that this is the way the relationship between the Israeli and American leadership is going but it’s only the beginning and there will be many developments.

    One interesting conclusion that Israel might draw from all of this is that the US relationship with Israel has indeed changed fundamentally and will be quite different for as many as the next eight years. As a result, they may decide they need to be, uh, more independent. Think about coddling up to the Chinese as a possibility or attacking Iran…

  • But at which point will American Jews (liberals) agree that Barry is a disaster for Israel-US relations? I’m not holding my breath. They’ll probably agree that we should demand everything from Israel, including having an American politician dictate if Israelis can build additions to their homes, and demand nothing from our enemies and in fact invite them for hot dogs. F*** Barrack Obama.

  • This is what crickets sound like people, not just here, but all over the liberal Jewish blogosphere. And yes, I’m definitely vindictive enough to say “I told you so”. Shit, I’d say it to you if we were the last two Jews being frog marched to the camps Obama’s distant cousins and Socialist best friends wind up sending us to. Congratulations on following the Bolsheviks and this chump. Way to demonstrate that superior Jewish intellect we bandy about so much!

  • A bit funny for me to be arguing this angle here – but dude! AlexK, please get a grip. Obama is not our lord and master, Bibi has not handed over the keys to anyone, and we’re not about to let anyone (socialist, bolshevik or other) march to any camps.

    Perspective is important, and while “Barry is a disaster for Israel-US relations” is an argument somewhere in the realm of reasonable – it’s a mighty big leap from that to Jews being marched off to camps again.

  • Also, Alex, nothing has happened yet. Relax and wait.

    He needs to give a gift to the Arabs and his gift is pressure on settlements. It’s not the end of the world.

  • I’m making a hypothetical point and it is this: a liberal Jew wouldn’t know who his friend or enemy was unless Jon Stewart told him, and then he’d still protect his enemy for some mythical principle that only exists in self-righteous Jewish notions.

    American Jews, for the most part, are more gullible than Bible Thumpers and yet they see more of chasm between them than with Hamas. Somehow I always forget why I stopped posting here, and then on the day Obama goes to the Arab World, snubs Israel in the process, prepared to detonate US-Israeli relations, and on top of it has the Chutzpah to tell Jews in their own country where they can and can’t live, and like clockwork, there’s old to whitewash what every Jew secretly knows and refuses to say about our President with declassified Muslim roots and Sarah Silverman prepared to blow him. With friends like us, who needs enemies. It’s time for Israelis to commit sepuku on their own. Why wait?

    Sure, this is a rant of a crazy man. Beyond all means, consider me crazy. The bar has already been set so low by all of the calm, rational, deep thinking, sane types. Every day, I wake up and think I’m dreaming and every day Barrack does something new to make American Jews look like fools, and they quietly go on cursing Sarah Palin and dreaming about peace with cannibals.

  • At least a Manchurian Candidate has proper intentions. This traitor will destroy this country and our allies on the sacrificial alter of “the common good” and the best of intentions. I’d make Aliyah but 1) there are more bat shit crazy filthy socialists in Israel than here, and 2) there won’t be many places left that I could rent a flat outside of the nuclear fall-out districts. I’d rather stay here and wait for the lights in New York to be distinguished and rebuild with others who saw this coming for years. Other bitter, gun-hugging, bigots like me.

  • Man, I have to drink less coffee and watch less news! I sincerely hope you wise Jews are all right and I am totally wrong. Nothing would make me happier. Though I will still say “I told you so” either way. Yup, I’m an asshole. Thanks Rabbi Hillel!

  • “Obama goes to the Arab World, snubs Israel in the process, prepared to detonate US-Israeli relations, and on top of it has the Chutzpah to tell Jews in their own country where they can and can’t live.”

    I don’t like that anymore than you do – but Israel is still sovereign (in theory) – and can tell Obama to shove it (G-d willing). No one elected Obama to lead Israel, which is how you’re treating it.

    And Muslim roots don’t mean anything – granted they are not the mainstream, but there are Muslims who do not hate Israel (one example), not to mention the Muslims (Bedouins – trackers are incredible in their help to Israel) who serve in the IDF – unlike most who decide to criticize (from Left OR Right) from their American armchair.

    Ok, you posted another comment while I was typing – “there are more bat shit crazy filthy socialists in Israel than here” WTF?! I’m generally pretty civil regardless of any disagreement I have, or how long the argument is (ask themiddle, over the past few weeks) – but that’s way over the line. Filthy?? Who gave you the right to criticize anyone who actually has decided to put his ass on the line? You have no standing to utter anything against anyone in Israel. You’re not crazy – you’re disrespectful in the worse way. I didn’t spent years in that green uniform, with no sleep at nights in the freezing cold of the Judean mountains for some chickenshit coward with a big mouth to criticize MY country. If you don’t like Israeli policy (e.g. any socialist proclivities) then the word is ALIYAH. Until then – sit your ass back down into your la-z-boy and shut the f*** up.

  • Ouch. OK. Will do. I don’t own any La-z-boys though but if I did, I would oblige.

    Point 1: Israel should do just that. Tell him to shove it. Cozy up to whomever it wants other than the US. It must worry about its interests first like any nation.

    Point 2: Muslim Roots – yes, I know all this. I have nearly as many Muslim acquaintances and friends as Jews but that has nothing to do with taking the chance with my freedoms by giving someone with vastly different interests than me the ability to rule over me. You and I have Jewish roots, and you would deny that they play into our personal goals and interests? We’re not robots and we’re not objective. No one is.

    Point 3: Sorry I offended you so much, that was not my intention. While I’m very thankful, on behalf of my family, for your service to the Jewish people, (I think I’ve mentioned I have relatives there serving right now as well), I don’t see why I can’t insult socialists no matter where they live and whether or not Jewish, Israeli, both or neither. I apologize that we disagree on the issue, but I detest Socialists, Communists and anyone that believes in either of those principles. While I appreciate the sacrifice you made, I also have a history which includes awful treatment of family members by followers of those two ideologies; those that believed the State and collective were more important than my family member’s individual freedoms. So while I may be lashing out, and probably a chickenshit coward (I’ll give you that one, I probably am, for now), I will always consider Socialists an enemy to me, even if they are distantly related and will never try to find common ground with them. Sorry. Perhaps I’ll take you up on your offer of Aliyah if that’s the way I can do my part to rid the world of Socialism, whether in Israel, America, or anywhere else.

    And yet, I find another reason why I stopped posting here. My acerbic and rash posts offend more people than necessary. I honestly feel bad that I offended you, but I don’t feel any different about the people I speak of. So, I’ll keep playing in the fever swamps of like minded capitalists, individuals, and I guess neocons and come back every now and then to get the pro-Obama stuff. I guess I’ll see you on Twitter.

  • The ups and downs of bi-polar behavior mixed with an over-inflated sense of self awareness. What can I tell ya? I’m a proud misanthrope without a home, but don’t feel sorry for me! 🙂

  • Alex – Ok, maybe I took a step too far, and shot from the hip. I wasn’t offended personally (and if I offended you, I apologize), and I have NEVER asked anyone to thank me, nor WILL I. Ever. I haven’t done half of what others have – who truly deserve our everlasting gratitude.

    But there’s a way to express your views. I probably even agree with you more than most others here (I am no Obama supporter), but when you just go ahead and say what you did about Israeli socialists like that, you’ve stepped over the line. Remember, regardless of how much you or I disagree with them – they did found the state.

    You say yourself you posts are “acerbic and rash” – but if you have valid points, why don’t you just make them? Why do you feel the need to come off as a lunatic?

    In any case, I definitely didn’t mean to push you away from here.

  • I feel like the Frisco Kid when he confused Quakers for Hassids. Or like Geert Wilders speaking at a Rainbow Coalition event.

  • Haha. You didn’t. I pushed myself away. I just have to reread my posts and it does the trick, here, facebook, wherever. And I’m not sure there is any way I can be offended. A bit embarrassed and regretful, maybe, but my skin is as thick as my stubbornness. I really must get out of San Diego. It has this exact effect on me. Too far from home and too far from reality. I’m aware of Israel’s socialist beginnings and I have nothing against Kibuttzniks either, in hindsight. If non-Jews ever wanted to know what internal strife/guilt/duality look like, I have front row tickets. I really need to make a profession out of this, There just aren’t enough verbal bomb throwers as of late.

  • Mmmmmm. Where? There ain’t no Shashlik for miles around here. However, my friends in Chicago are opening a restaurant around that theme and calling it “Poke”. 🙂

  • Obama tearing up agreements that Israel reached with Bush?

    Oh, wow, I didn’t see this coming. What a shocka!

    I wonder why he’s doing this? There was nothing in his campaign rhetoric to indicate he might turn on Israel like this, and his friends and political advisers were all staunch Israel supporters. J Street said so.

    I wonder what happened. I am truly mystified. Maybe Jewish Voice For Peace can enlighten me.

  • i doubt the New York Times will acutally follow this path of logic, but I think it is quite important to think of the future implications of reneging upon previous agreements, as the_middle so astutely noted. It may, perhaps, have less significance to Americans than it does to Israelis, but the Maerican administarion should remember that regimes may be less likely to be caught in the cross hairs, and risk being seen as pro-American, if they do not believe that America will live up to her word.

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