The part I most liked was this:
But Palestinian officials said that the Israeli measures did not go far enough. The prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, Salam Fayyad, told reporters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Thursday that they did not meet Palestinian expectations, and that “what is required is a full cessation of military raids in Palestinian Authority areas.”
It was always thus: Israel doesn't meet Palestinian expectations.
At the bottom of the NYT piece is a link to Elliot Abram's op-ed at the Wall Street Journal. According to Abrams, who was there, the Bush administration did reach understandings with Sharon's government recognizing that the largest settlements near the border would remain in Israel (implying there might be land swaps for them). Abrams thereby contradicts Hillary Clinton who says such understandings never happened.
What surprises me about the whole issue is the assumption - nay, certainty - that no-one's keeping track so people, even the American Secretary of State, can say whatever they wish because no-one knows enough to call them on their fibs. I mean, we're talking about 2004-2005, not the twelfth century. The day before yesterday. Some of us are old enough to remember what was happening four years ago, and we don't need Elliot Abrams to write in the newspapers to know that Hillary Clinton is not telling the truth, unless it might be in some lawyerly-hairsplitting meaning.
The funny part, of course, is that Hillary's husband Bill, once President of the United States, had the same position when on December 24th 2000 he dictated his terms of peace to the Palestinians and Israelis: That the large settlements near the border stay put. Buy hey, that was a very very long time ago, almost nine years, and it's too much to expect that anyone know facts that old.
Predictably, the folks from the Palestinians-are-always-right brigade are linking to a rebuttal of Abrams. It's over here, should you be interested. It left me unconvinced, but maybe you'll be swayed. In any case, the key point to remember is the distinction between outposts and far-flung settlements, on the one hand, and large settlements near the line, on the other. The first two ultimately have no future as even Netanyahu's government implicitely admits; the second type will never be dismantled, as even the people of the Geneva Accord recognized in writing. How President Obam and Secretay Clinton, two highly intelligent people, have managed to lose sight of this, I cannot say.