The Israel-Palestinian peace talks haven’t even really gotten under way beyond a single preliminary meeting, but are already chock full of back room deals, with President Obama making secret promises to both sides and internal Israeli politics threatening to derail the whole thing already.
Getting the hawkish Jewish Home party on board after they threatened to quit the government over peace talks apparently wasn’t just a matter of putting a referendum system in place to ensure a deal was all but impossible, and the Israeli media is now reporting Netanyahu secretly promised massive expansions to West Bank settlements in return for their acquiescence.
Under the not-so-secret deal, Israel will announce 1,000 new settlement homes in the next few days, and Netanyahu has signed off on another 4,000 or so homes that won’t be announced for a few more months to give the appearance of a one-shot deal.
That’s not the way the peace process was supposed to work, and the reports were that the deal for a “limited” settlement freeze allowed Israel to make a one time 1,000 home expansion in the existing settlement blocs during the talks, presumably the impending announcement. That Netanyahu has a deal with Jewish Home that directly contravenes a separate deal with the PA could throw the whole process into doubt, though with two weeks remaining before the next meeting there is plenty of time for more behind-the-scenes deals to be made.