When a Picture is Worth 14,000 New Houses

From the Palestine Center Blog comes this new map of the planned settlement expansion during the next five years.  The blue line is the separation fence that is being built right now – some of it is finished and some it still under construction.  It will be interesting to see how (or, rather, if) these plans are altered.  While there is sure to be tweaking to this plan as the peace process evolves and relations between the US and Israel normalize.  The hope, of course, is that the settlement expansion plans are eventually scrapped in a peace deal.  The question is whether this map will change sooner rather than later.

[tweetmeme] Remember that Obama (via Clinton) gave Bibi a list of four things that the Israeli PM must do to fix relations with Washington – one of which being the reversal of construction decisions in East Jerusalem.  Bibi has yet to reply to the Obama Administration, but we could get a hint of his plans later this week.  Laura Rozen reports that because Obama postponed his trip to Indonesia, he will get  the opportunity to meet with Bibi who will be in town for the AIPAC conference.  From Rozen:

“Whether [Obama] sees the Prime Minister will depend on the nature of Israel’s response to the request for assurances that the administration has made via Hillary,” veteran Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller told POLITICO. “The problem is less for Bibi than it is for Obama because the administration’s anger was so white hot … So if the response is positive and significant, they’ll meet; if not, they won’t.”

But there’s an alternative theory, Miller posited.

“That in the wake of health care victory, [Obama’s] emboldened and starts squeezing the Israelis because he feels he can,” Miller said in a follow up email. “I’m serious about this. Obama will think he’s a real power now … and Bibi is weak. Hold on to your hats.”

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