Monday, September 12, 2005

'What Will the Americans Say?' (Natan Sharansky)

Translated by Daily Alert.

Whoever suggests bringing in the Americans to be the supreme judge on the issue of Israeli settlements understands nothing about the basics of American government and policy. After Bush issued his letter on Israeli settlement blocs, I asked a senior White House official in Washington if the U.S. was now ready to recognize the annexation of a single square meter of Maale Adumim, in return for disengagement. 'No,' came the immediate reply. 'We will be pleased if in the end you receive all of Maale Adumim, but only in the framework of negotiations with the Palestinians.'

To expect anything different from any American administration is to push them into a corner they don't want to be in. If we waited for American approval, even the Jerusalem suburbs of Pisgat Zeev and Gilo would not exist today. We certainly need to take American concerns into account, we need to be diplomatic and explain and not surprise them. When I was minister of construction, I phoned the American ambassador before every announcement of new construction in the territories. The response each time was: 'We don't agree, of course, but we thank you for keeping us informed.' This is how we should act in the future; to update them, to take them into account, but not to wait for their approval.

We must never forget for a second that it's not the role of America to raise the flag of Zionism. The task of strengthening settlements and building and protecting Jerusalem isn't their job; it's ours, and we can't transfer it to anyone else - even our closest friends.

(Makor Rishon-Hebrew, 9 Sep 05)