Fourteen Years after Reneging on an Agreement, the U.S. Condemns Israel for Violating It

Last week, the State Department upbraided the Knesset for repealing a 2005 law forbidding Jews from entering or living in a small area of the West Bank, on the grounds that doing so “represents a clear contradiction of undertakings” that “Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on behalf of Israel affirmed in writing to George W. Bush.” Elliott Abrams comments:

In an exchange of letters on April 14, 2004, Bush gave Sharon the support he needed to complete the Gaza withdrawal. Bush’s letter made several important statements: that the United States would impose no new peace plan on Israel beyond what was already agreed; that the United States would “preserve and strengthen Israel’s capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats”; and that the Palestinian refugee problem would be solved in [the West Bank and Gaza] rather than by moving Palestinians to Israel. More relevant, Bush also said that “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.” In other words, Israeli settlements were realities, and the United States understood that in any final status agreement, Israeli borders would reflect their location.

This formal exchange of letters, upon which Sharon relied, was then endorsed by Congress. The United States Senate voted 95–3 in favor on June 23, 2004, and the House of Representatives supported the Bush–Sharon commitments by a vote of 407–9 on the following day.

Why is this an act of hypocrisy? Because it was the United States, under the Obama–Biden administration in 2009, that claimed that the 2004 exchange of letters and commitments was absolutely of no consequence and not binding on the United States. . . . The Obama administration had already torn up any such commitment and turned the Bush–Sharon exchange of April 2004 into a pair of dead letters.

Read more at National Review

More about: Ariel Sharon, Barack Obama, George W. Bush, Joseph Biden, U.S.-Israel relationship, West Bank

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security