Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The sad thing about the plight of Bethlehem is that it was an accident. In 1967 when Israel conquered the West Bank and annexed East Jerusalem they intended to include the neighboring Bethlehem district. Due to a clerical oversight it was left out of the document that was forwarded to the Knesset. Moshe Dayan was appalled but the critical moment passed. For a brief time it looked like King Hussein would negotiate a Peace Treaty to get Bethlehem and the tourist revenue back. Israel was willing to cut that deal, so it held back on pressing the issue. By the time Hussein acceded to the rejectionist camp that assigned the West Bank to the previously irrelevant PLO lines had hardened and the Americans would not support any further changes. To ride back in now and claim Bethlehem for Israel would be a bold move that might work. It would mean decisive action also to free the Christians of Lebanon from the threat of Hezbollah. After Israel's past experiences there they may not want to but as the Iranians push for existential confrontation a pushing of the Reset Button may be in order.