Obama was shocked — shocked — to find that settlements were eating the West Bank!
One afternoon in the spring of 2015, a senior State Department official named Frank Lowenstein paged through a government briefing book and noticed a map that he had never seen before”. […] The new map in the briefing book was different. It showed large swaths of territory that were off limits to Palestinian development and filled in space between the settlements and the outposts. At that moment, Lowenstein told me, he saw “the forest for the trees”—not only were Palestinian population centers cut off from one another but there was virtually no way to squeeze a viable Palestinian state into the areas that remained.
Lowenstein showed the small map to Secretary of State John Kerry and said, “Look what’s really going on here.” Kerry brought the map to his next meeting with President Obama. The map was too small for everyone in the Situation Room to see, so Lowenstein had a series of larger maps made. The information was then verified by U.S. intelligence agencies. Obama’s Presidency was winding down, but Lowenstein figured that he could use the time left to raise awareness about what the Israelis were doing. “One day, everyone’s going to wake up and go, ‘Wait a minute, we’ve got to stop this to at least have the possibility of a two-state solution,’ ” Lowenstein said.
Alarmed by Israeli actions depicted in the maps, Obama decided to abstain on a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the settlements, clearing the way for its passage.
[Ross’s] account focuses primarily on the minutiae of the negotiations […], which future historians will require a Rosetta stone to decipher. Consider this hieroglyphic from Ross’s text:‘In our secure call the next day, Bibi [Netanyahu] raised my original bridging idea – not so much the notion of 11+2 as his being able to say he had done something less than 13, and Arafat and Clinton being able to say it was a 13 percent transfer of territory. But now Bibi said he did no know how to actually do this. There needed to be an area of special status that would make up the difference between what he was doing for the further redeployment and the total we were asking for. I saw an opening here and probed: Is the problem that roads or an economic zone can’t cover sufficient territory to reach the 13 percent given the size of the FRD [further redeployments] you can do? Yes, was the answer, and he could simply not increase the size of the B area – an area where Israelis retained the security responsibility but the Palestinians had the civil responsibility. Previously, I had raised the idea of creating what might be termed a “B-“ area – an area that gave the Palestinians more authority than in the C areas, but less than a full-fledged B area. Bibi had explored it, but also said it was not doable. I revisited this idea now but with a slightly different twist. What if we created an area that you could say was a “C” and they would be able to say was a “B”?’