In her debut speech, the new European Union Foreign Minister strongly condemned the expulsion of Palestinian residents from their homes in East Jerusalem, and said that what Benjamin Netanyahu calls "settlement freeze" is "partial and insufficiant".
Ben Kaspit, political correspondent of Ma'ariv known for his extensive contacts in the corridors of power, wrote yesterday in his column: "Israel's diplomatic status is undergoing a rapid collapse, whose like we have never known before. We did undergo crises during the first Lebanon War, the First Intifada and on other occasions - but never did we fall from a such great height to such a low depth, and the bottom is still far down" (Ma'ariv, December 18).
And Kaspit added that "Netanyahu is licking his wounds from the settlement freeze. In retrospect, he greatly regrets it. The price is high, and no goods were delivered.". Daily, the Prime Minister is publicly embroiled with settlers, rabbis the extreme-right Hotobeli Faction inside his party - and yet the world still fails to recognize his merits as a great seeker after peace, the international criticism is still continuing and intensifying. Netanyahu's bureau tends to turn their fire on Attorney Yitzhak Molho, the man who ran the prolonged talks with the representatives of President Obama and cooked up the "freeze deal".
It's not nice to put all the blame on Molho, a faithful messenger and shrewd lawyer, who had gotten personal instructions from the Prime Minister and fully carried them out. He carried on tough and exhausting negotiations with the Americans, and managed to lower the price and obtain a settlement freeze lite, very lite indeed. Not a full freeze, without exception, but a freeze which enables the continued construction of three thousand housing units in the settlements, a freeze which does not include East Jerusalem, a freeze which puts no halt to the continued expulsion of Palestinians from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah.
Attorney Molcho did get goods for the price which the Prime Minister was willing to pay, a real bargain price. But the goods were no good. So it is not really a good deal even when the price was dirt cheap.