Former ambassador Kurtzer says Israel 'playing pretend' on Migron relocation

Former US ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer on Monday slammed the government's proposal to relocate residents of the Migron outpost to the Adam settlement. Kurtzer was appointed by president George W. Bush in 2001 and has emerged as a leading voice among those from the former administration who back the approach of the Obama team, which has been strenuously calling for a settlement freeze. "Instead of fulfilling a promise to the United States" to remove illegal outposts, by moving the Migron residents to another West Bank settlement, "they're going to pretend they've taken down an outpost," he told The Jerusalem Post. Kurtzer has been vocal on the issue of commitments made or not made between Israel and the US, playing a very public role in rejecting statements by former senior Bush official Elliott Abrams that the two countries had reached a tacit agreement allowing for natural growth in settlements. "There were no understandings," he stressed to the Post. Though Jerusalem has refused to freeze natural growth in settlements, saying the government couldn't stop normal life in these communities, Kurtzer took issue with that characterization. He said no one was telling Israelis they couldn't have more babies, as some Israeli officials have charged, but that "nowhere in the world [grants] the right to build where you want because you have a baby." Kurtzer also contended that the natural growth issue had been manipulated, as Israel has increased the settlement population by attracting new residents. "The natural growth argument has nothing to do with natural growth," he said.