March 10, 2011 at 4:05 pm 1 comment

Continued from:

An obstacle to peace


Excerpts from his book “How to avoid Armageddon”
Available through Amazon

Click:  type: how to avoid armageddon


There are different kinds of Jewish settlers living in Judea and Samaria. There are a few who harbor a chauvinistic chip on their shoulders, often brought on by Arab violence, and sometimes due to plain nastiness. Some of them uproot olive trees of neighboring Arab farmers or prevent them from harvesting their crops.

But most Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are built on barren, isolated hilltops on state land, populated by quiet, hard-working folks, trying to lead their lives peacefully, not lording it over their Arab neighbors. During quiet periods they shop in stores in nearby Arab towns and villages, hire Arabs to do various jobs, and in some cases, provide medical and other services to the local population. Before 1993 when the peace process ironically dealt a severe blow to any peacefulness in the region, many friendly relationships had existed between these settlers and Arabs from surrounding villages.

There are also Jews in Arab urban areas such as in East Jerusalem and Hebron, living in houses (usually acquired through purchase or legal acquisition of property that belonged to Jews two or three generations ago). In too many cases, however, instead of living amicably with their neighbors or at least quietly, theirs is an in-your-face, often obnoxious manner and should be strenuously dealt with by the Israeli authorities, because, whether legal or not, these people foster even more hatred and seriously damage any prospects for peace.

This brings us back to the question of whether the settlements in general constitute an obstacle to peace? The question prompts another question: why, when Jews were forbidden to live on the West Bank between the years 1949-67, when not a single Jew lived anywhere in Judea and Samaria, did the Arabs nevertheless refuse to make peace with Israel, expressing this refusal by frequent artillery bombardments and sniping by regular army forces as well as the dispatch of armed guerrilla bands into Israel, in addition to the closure of seaways and the formation of battle positions in preparation to launch the pan-Arab invasion in June 1967.

Why did militant attacks on ordinary Israeli citizens in the heart of Israel escalate when the peace process began in 1993?

Why did Yasser Arafat, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization, launch a violent uprising that had all the trappings of war in the year 2000, just when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to dismantle dozens of settlements, and relinquish most of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and half of the Old City of Jerusalem?

And why, after Israel withdrew every last settler and soldier from the Gaza Strip, did the Palestinians launch huge, daily rocket barrages at the towns and villages across the border into Israel? No Jewish settlements anywhere in the Gaza Strip, and yet they continued to kill and terrorize Jews across the border, thus sabotaging any chance for peace.

All these questions challenge the claim that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are an obstacle to peace. They might not help promote peace, but as we mentioned, even before they were set up there had not been peace in the Middle East.

*   *   *

A repeated claim by international leaders and the media is that Israel signed agreements with the Palestinians that prohibit settlement activity. But neither the Declaration of Principles signed between Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat, leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization in September 13, 1993, nor subsequent agreements between Israel and the Palestinian leadership contains provisions prohibiting or restricting the expansion of Jewish communities in the West Bank or Gaza Strip – notwithstanding President Barack Obama’s demand that Israel impose a settlement freeze.

But the agreements do express a commitment by both sides to compromise on formerly hallowed positions. So, it does seem that Israel has flouted the spirit of the peace process by continuing to build and expand settlements in the West Bank, even though not specifically prohibited in the agreement. This has always been a very sensitive issue for the Arabs and damaged their trust. However, at the very outset of the peace process, trust was seriously challenged by the eruption of the almost daily suicide attacks against Jews, which automatically turned the peace process into a futile exercise in diplomatic make-believe. Nevertheless, about half the population of Israel, in the interest of forging peace, keeps berating their government for failing to implement a clear-cut end to expansion of Jewish settlement in the West Bank. On the other hand, the Arabs have not registered in any significant manner, that the suicide attacks or any of the other forms of anti-Israel hostility, have shattered prospects for real peace. There seems no end to the stalemate.

Since 1967, Israel has often been ambivalent about its intentions regarding Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Occasionally, after pressure by the U.S.A., Israel has agreed to limit, curtail or slow down settlement activity, and soon afterwards new settlements are established or old ones enlarged. This has understandably upset the peace-brokering Americans, and deepened Arab mistrust and hostility.

Some people suspect that there is a strategic reason for this ambivalence. On the one hand, agreeing to settlement freeze is meant to mollify the Americans and quell Arab hostility. On the other hand, the more Jewish settlement is developed, the more eagerly the Palestinians were expected to agree to make peace. If this was the reasoning, it has failed miserably. Another reason might be in terms of long-term strategy. With more and more Jewish settlement, eventually the time will come when there won’t be enough space to set up a viable independent Palestinian state. Personally, I don’t think this is the case, because strategically it could become a demographic time-bomb – one state, called Israel, with an ever-growing Arab population one day in the near future becoming a majority.

A major factor in Israel’s ambivalence regarding settlement policy is that much of early Jewish history is interwoven in Judea and Samaria; here was where an integral part of the spirit of Judaism had its development. Of no less importance is the additional vulnerability that might be caused by relinquishing these regions to a people overtly hostile to Israel. In the very center of Israel, the border would be a mere nine miles from the sea! Furthermore, Israel’s coalition politics prevents stable government due to the constant concessions demanded by small coalition partners, often threatening to bolt the government unless certain conditions are met. Threats are often connected with the settlements – Right Wing coalition partners sometimes demanding expansion and conversely, Left Wing partners calling for freeze or dismantlement. This ambivalence is not something that Israel can be pleased with or proud of. And to a certain extent it has probably harmed the prospects of forging peace – assuming such prospects ever genuinely existed. But the main factor in preventing peace has more than likely been terrorism, which escalated dramatically after the peace talks started in 1993.

And this begs the question: Why after all these years of struggling to achieve independent statehood (lost due to their attempt to destroy Israel in 1947-49), just when their dream was so close to being realized during the nineteen nineties, did the Arabs launch their terror attacks against Israel’s citizens. Surely they knew this would destroy all prospects of their dream coming true. The question leads to an additional one: do they have another dream – to see Israel disappear altogether? Otherwise it is hard to find a good explanation for the thousands of terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens within Israel itself.

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Entry filed under: Blogroll, dangeous lies and halftruths, How to avoid Armageddon, In order to survive, Solutions for Palestine, Things not mentioned in the press, United Nations. Tags: , , , , , , .


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