Of course allowing construction in the settlements is a violation of the first stage of the Roadmap Olmert has just committed to in Annapolis. It may not be a big deal provided that Olmert get some real benefit from it. But this is questionable. Olmert's highest priority is to remain in office, not to make peace. Peace can be delayed, according to his thinking, but if he is out of office then what is the point to it? To remain in office comfortably, Olmert needs his coalition intact, including Lieberman. If this violation of the Roadmap gets Lieberman to stay, then it was worth it. But Lieberman said he would leave once the core issues get to being discussed. If so, why not let him go and stick to the Roadmap so that Israel looks like an honorable state that fulfills its obligations? In absolute terms, building inside the settlements does not change things much. Just a few more settlers to evacuate. This is so unless the Palestinians choose to make an issue out of it. For example, they might threaten to freeze peace talks unless Israel stops this policy. But this is unlikely to happen; too much money coming from the Paris conference, and too much to skim off this bonanza. So I suspect the Palestinian leadership will swallow this frog, but at the cost that the Palestinian people will lose even more respect towards their present leaders. Ultimately, this might prove costly to peace.
U.S. says working on initiative to de-escalate Syria fighting, with focus on Aleppo (Reuters)
from the article: Officials: Israel to allow construction in existing W. Bank settlements