You might have read, or heard, that the construction of new homes and a new road would constitute a violation of the so-called "road map" to peace that was released by the United Nations in 2002. That is true, since the road-map document calls for a freeze on all settlement activity.
But so what? Though both the United States and Israel state for the record that they still accept the design of the road map, and though Bush specifically made mention of the road map yesterday in explaining the American government's continuing opposition to "settlement activity," the fact is that the 2 1/2-year-old document is as dated as the word "groovy."
With Israel's successful defeat of the Palestinian intifada, the death of Yasser Arafat and Sharon's stunning decision to cede Gaza to the Palestinian Authority, the terms of the discussion between the two parties have changed entirely.
Got that? Israel can unilaterally withdraw from agreements it's made when it decides those agreements are "dated," and the Palestinians, upon whose land the new homes will be built, and the Americans, who sponsored the agreement, can all go suck a huge egg. The extent of the shilling for Israel that Podhoretz is doing here should give anyone pause, but please do not question where his loyalties lie, because that would make you an anti-Semite.
In smugly downplaying the significance of Israel's illegal settlement activity, Podhoretz is countenancing a crime which has immediate negative repercussions both for the Palestinian people, and for the reputation of the United States as an honest broker, if that reputation even exists any more, which is doubtful. To put it more bluntly: John Podhoretz has taken a position which is contrary to both the stated policy and security goals of the U.S., and in favor of the illegal, inhumane, expansionist policies of Israel. If a liberal columnist wrote something comparable about, say, France, well, you know what would happen. Ann Coulter would be on Fox News within minutes spitting up blood, Charles Krauthammer would declare the writer clinically insane, Jonah Goldberg would quote a famous conservative philosopher whose work he obviously failed to grasp, and Michelle Malkin would get a new perm. In other words, a typical day in Wingnutistan.
Juan Cole has more on Bush's meeting with Sharon.