A Hard Look at the West Bank Settlers

It is past time to take a good hard look at the West Bank Settlers, who have led Israeli politics around by the nose now for decades, as if Israel’s right to exist were one and the same with their right to keep their settlements!

I believe that peace with the Palestinians has long been available, by pulling the settlers back within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. Even the most seemingly intractable issue, the status of Jerusalem, has been resolved in detail since the last days of the Clinton administration. I believe the demand for the “Right of Return” will be exchangeable for a secure, economically developed, Palestinian state in the entire West Bank and Gaza.
I believe that the Palestinians, who feel they have nothing to lose, can come to have everything to lose, in secure sovereignty and prosperous economic development. The willing economic bakers are many, the population numbers are small, and the money already being spent on war and “peacekeeping” is vastly greater than a full, advanced Palestinian economic infrastructure would require. I believe that the Palestinians themselves would become the most ardent guardians of the peace, against anyone’s attempt to restore their former desolation.
There is plenty of support and detailed evidence for these contentions, but I won’t go into it, except to append a post I made last June, Palestinian Public Opinion, which bears on this. In polls, both the Israeli and Palestinian publics support the same path to peace.
Skeptical? It has never been tried. So try it!
What do we have instead? The horror of the current conflict and an unfinished wall cutting into the territory of a future Palestinian nation.
The most incredible part of all this is that the Israeli people have long been willing to make this trade-off. Support for the West Bank settlements has been a maddeningly feckless sleepwalk into disaster. Israel has acted as if indulging the settlers’ infantile delusion of a Greater Israel were a free ride, and always would be. (They grabbed another hilltop? Let them have it. They must really want that hilltop. We don’t want them throw a tantrum!)
But, if you back the settlers, you back them with military force, and eventually you back them with a war in Lebanon.. It is not a free ride. It has been a drugged sleepwalk.
The drugs?
–Military and technological contempt for the Arabs. Arabs can fire missiles! Arabs can construct stronghold entrenchments! Arabs can stand and fight!
Yes, they can. The bubble of invulnerability has been a drug.
–Overly broad, unconditional support from the US for Israeli West Bank policy. I say overly broad, not overly deep. Let it be deep! Deep means support for Israel’s right to exist. Overly broad means support for the West Bank policies.
American Jews and American politicians have been unwilling to speak the truth about Israel’s West Bank policies. This combined unconditional support has been a drug.
We need to become a counterweight. We need to repudiate, even, in time, to anathemize as murderous, continued West Bank settlements.
It is time to wake up to the suffering.
Is the timing bad? It will get better. The fighting will end. There will be negotiations. If sovereignty over the West Bank is in prospect, they can go well. If it is not, they will be hopeless.
Palestinian Public Opinion
Edgewise, June 21, 2006, David Kolodney
Note: I did do some “cherry-picking” for the data I liked best! Also: PIPA (Program on International Policy Attitudes), the source of this report, is well regarded as credible.
Reported by WorldPublicOpinion.org (Publication of the Program on International Policy Attitudes)
Near East Consulting (NEC) poll of Palestinians, Jan. 27-29,
Hamas position calling for the elimination of Israel
Hamas should change its position: 63%
Hamas should maintain its position: 21%
“Even among those who voted for Hamas, only 37 percent support Hamas’ position that Israel does not have the right to exist.”
“[E]ighty percent support a peace agreement.”
JMCC poll (Jerusalem Media & Communication Center) poll of Palestinians, Feb. 8-12,
Two-state solution: 58%
“A bi-national state on all of historic Palestine”: 22%
Islamic state (a volunteered response): 3%
Among those who said they voted for Hamas, the reason given:
Hamas “political agenda”: 12%
Hoped Hamas would end corruption: 43%
“The poll also found that 73% do not want [President] Abbas, a Fatah leader, to resign from the presidency.”



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