Israelis Claim Secret Agreement With U.S. - washingtonpost.com
A friend of mine--a gentle, pot-loving, ultimate frisbee playing, Mac loving hippie liberal--just went back to Israel and has decided to stay there and join the army and kill Palestinians. I have no idea what happened to him. I'm horrified at the changes he has undergone in a few short weeks.
Israel has gotten to the point where it is impossible to discuss in any rational way in the media. Only pro-Israel voices are allowed, which is troubling. Dissent should always be heard.
I long for the day that an answer can be found that everyone can agree on. An answer that benefits the Palestinians and Israelis. I'm not holding my breath though. In the meantime I'm just hoping my friend doesn't murder anyone or get hurt himself.
Ehud Olmert, the current Israeli prime minister, said this week that Bush's letter gave the Jewish state permission to expand the West Bank settlements that it hopes to retain in a final peace deal, even though Bush's peace plan officially calls for a freeze of Israeli settlements across Palestinian territories on the West Bank. In an interview this week, Sharon's chief of staff, Dov Weissglas, said Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice reaffirmed this understanding in a secret agreement reached between Israel and the United States in the spring of 2005, just before Israel withdrew from Gaza.
U.S. officials say no such agreement exists, and in recent months Rice has publicly criticized even settlement expansion on the outskirts of Jerusalem, which Israel does not officially count as settlements. But as peace negotiations have stepped up in recent months, so has the pace of settlement construction, infuriating Palestinian officials, and Washington has taken no punitive action against Israel for its settlement efforts.
Israeli officials say they have clear guidance from Bush administration officials to continue building settlements, as long as it meets carefully negotiated criteria, even though those understandings appear to contradict U.S. policy.