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Four Star Chutzpah**** UPDATE

The European Union and some of its member nations have long grumbled about the Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Desultory efforts to object have often fallen to the wayside. Now the EU has decided to enforce a 2005 trade agreement (signed by former PM Ehud Olmert) barring West Bank settlement products from taking advantage of Israeli customs exemptions to member nations. To this stipulation, which is to be enforced in 2014, the EU will now add the requirement that all agreements between Israel and the EU state that the area beyond the green line is "occupied territory." The details at Ha'aretz.

Of course, the Israelis object. But what is their primary argument at this point: PM Benjamin Netanyahu, King of Chutzpah, objects that  It will undermine Secretary of State John Kerry in his effort to revive the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Times story.

Really? The peace talks that are going nowhere will be undermined by an EU rule to go into effect next January? Is that the only obstacle?

UPDATE:  As the world turns! The EU implemented its old and new rules today on the Occupied Territories in the West Bank. And rather than undermining Kerry's peace efforts, it appears that many Israeli right-wingers have seized upon them as the lesser of two evils. Read the analysis of Ha'aretz blogger Chemi Shalev.

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Potentially good news from the EU.  In the meantime, Netanyahu can be expected to continue his obnoxious behavior.  Why?  Because the good ol' USA will continue to let him do it.  That's why.  Darn sad.

Just a quick note: I have observed that Catholic bloggers routinely speak of chutzpah as a negative. Sometimes it is, and I'd say it is here, but it's worth remembering: chutzpah gilt!

Since I live in NYC, I know that chutzpah is what makes this a great city! And if you live here long enough, you acquire the ability to perform chutzpah, both negative and positive. It helps to have strong elbows.

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About the Author

Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, a former editor of Commonweal, writes frequently in these pages and blogs at dotCommonweal.