At the daily briefing today, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly was asked if there was room for compromise on the issue of a settlement freeze.
Here is Kelly's response:
We look forward to sitting down and talking about what can we do to move this process forward. In order to create this environment that will be conducive to resumptions of the negotiations, both sides need to comply with road map commitments....Freeze on all activity relating to settlements including natural growth is laid out very clearly. Working out the way to our resolution, I'm not going to say we're not going to compromise; we'll see what happens.
Note that last part. "Working out the way to resolution, I'm not going to say we're not going to compromise; we'll see what happens."
He seems to be saying that the US will compromise on settlements or "natural growth," but, in fact, he is saying the opposite. He says that first the freeze goes into effect, the Roadmap is complied with, and then "working our way to a resolution... we'll see what happens."
Perfect. The United States is telling Israel that we are open to discuss anything and even to compromise but not in advance of final status negotiations along the lines we favor, i.e. "our resolution."
In that context, we'll consider Israel's argument about natural growth or anything else it wants to discuss. But not in advance of those negotiations, not in advance of fulfillment of the terms of the Roadmap, and certainly not now.
For those worried that the president might blink, it looks like that worry is misplaced. I don't say you shouldn't worry. President Obama is getting serious pushback from the usual suspects. But today's statement indicates that he isn't backing down, quite the contrary.