The list of defense-related and other gifts the U.S. administration is willing to offer to Israel in exchange for three months of construction freeze in the settlements raises suspicions that someone has gone mad. An additional extension of the freeze, which he has previously rejected out of hand, may spell a political and ideological headache for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – but the offer by U.S. President Barack Obama is very enticing. The addition of 20 F-35s to the package discussed two months ago tips the balance very clearly. From Israel’s point of view, it is an offer that cannot be refused.
Since Obama entered the White House two years ago, he has not given the impression – at least in terms of foreign relations – of being a particularly tough negotiator. Nonetheless, this time the administration appears to have gone overboard, even though in Washington they know full well that the freeze is a highly symbolic gesture, which the settlers have already managed to avoid in the past.