Haaretz is reporting that the Israeli Civil Administration has approved an additional 2500 acres worth of settlement expansion into the West Bank. I'm a friend of Israel, make no mistake about it: but this is intolerable. I simply don't understand how Israel can claim to take the peace process seriously when it continues to violate its own promises to the United States, to the Palestinians, and to the world. This sort of behavior gives comfort and encouragement to the most radical of the Palestinian factions: it's what keeps Hamas and others of that ilk alive. I simply don't understand why Israel doesn't get that this is dramatically counter to its own interests.
Hopefully George Mitchell will deliver a loud and strong message to Israel that if Israel continues with these sorts of practices, they can expect much less cooperation and aid from the United States. We've got a big lever here, and we need to help Israel even when Israel doesn't want to be helped.
I've said before that Israel deals with the Palestinians like a chess player who can only think two moves ahead. Peace won't come to the region until Israel learns to think five, 10 or 20 moves ahead. (Lots of other things would also need to happen, like Hamas acknowledging Israel or being removed from power, but Israel learning to anticipate the consequences of its actions is a sine qua non.)