Jewish Communities in Judea & Samaria (Settlements): Obstacle to Peace?

Straight from the Jerusalem Cloakroom #168, September 19, 2004

1. ARE SETTLEMENTS A CAUSE FOR THE ARAB/PALESTINIAN-ISRAELI CONFLICT? Arab/Palestinian wars on the Jewish State erupted irrespective of the presence/absence of Jewish communities in Judea & Samaria (J&S), Gaza or Golan. They were established - on 2% of J&S and Gaza area - FOLLOWING the 1967 War, which erupted FOLLOWING the establishment of the PLO (1964), succeeding the wars of 1956 and 1948/9 and the sustained campaign of Palestinian terror, which was launched with the 1929 massacre of Hebron's Jewish community and the expulsion of Gaza's Jewish community, the 1929, 1936 and 1948 decimation of Gush Etzion's Jewish communities and the 1948 dismantling of Kfar Darom in the Gaza Strip.

2. ARE SETTLEMENTS AN OBSTACLE TO PEACE? Why would the dismantling of Jewish communities in Gaza and J&S promote peace, while the dismantling of Arab communities in Israel violate human rights?! The 1993 Oslo Accord does not restrict settlement activity. If 250,000 Jews - among 2.6MN Palestinians in J&S and Gaza - constitute an obstacle to peace, how does one refer to 1.3MN Israeli Arabs among 5.5MN Jews? A super obstacle to peace?! If the 1.3MN Israeli Arabs represent peaceful coexistence, why would 250,000 Jews in J&S, Gaza and Golan be an obstacle to peace?! According to Israel's law, the establishment of Jewish communities of J&S and Gaza cannot utilize private Arab land, and cannot displace any Arab.

3. SETTLEMENTS ARE THE LITMUS TEST FOR - AND SPUR TO - PEACE. Hope for peace and the uprooting of Jewish communities in J&S and Gaza constitute an oxymoron. If 2.6MN Palestinians cannot tolerate 250,000 Jews in their midst, what do they mean by peaceful coexistence?! The venomous Palestinian/Arab opposition to Jewish presence in their midst - featuring heavily in their formal education, clergy and media systems - reflects an inherent long-term ideology/strategy. It has been the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and of anti-Jewish Palestinian terrorism. Why would the West tolerate Judenrein Arab areas?! Palestinians should know that preoccupation with terror would yield more Jewish communities, thus taxing Palestinian negotiation posture. Freezing Jewish settlements would remove a chief Palestinian incentive to negotiate.

4. WOULD THE DISMANTLING OF SETTLEMENTS EASE THE CONFLICT? The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has not been territorial, nor has it been driven by despair. The 1993 Oslo Accord provided the PLO/PA with unprecedented hope, territory and legitimacy, which produced unprecedented terrorism. PM Barak offer to evacuate 98% of J&S and Gaza triggered the current war. The conflict has been nurtured by the Palestinian/Arab aim to eradicate sovereign Jewish (or any other minority) presence in the Mideast, and by their hope for Jewish surrender. The uprooting of Jewish communities, in a deterrence-driven-peace region, would fuel, rather than subdue, Palestinian terrorism.

5. ARE SETTLEMENTS REQUIRED FOR ISRAEL'S SECURITY? The mountain ridges of J&S constitute the "Golan Heights" of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Most settlements are located in strategic areas, controlling critical transportation arteries and hill tops, protecting 40% of Israel's water resources, constraining and deterring terrorist manoeuvrability and bolstering Israel's determination to hold on to the vital area. Gaza's Kfar Darom and Netzarim were established, in 1967, per IDF insistence. It was consistent with the late Chairman of the Joint C-O-S General Earl Wheeler's recommendation that Israel's control of the entire Gaza (139sqm) would "reduce hostile potential by a factor of 5 (recruitment, training, operations, incitement, etc.)." They constitute an outpost, absorbing terrorism, which would otherwise hit Israel's "soft belly." The 1993/4 disengagement from Gaza required three times as many IDF soldiers around and inside Gaza.

6. DO JEWS HAVE THE RIGHT TO SETTLE J&S, GAZA and GOLAN? The 450 Arab villages of J&S bear Biblical names (Anatot is Anata, Haramah is A-Ram, Gilo is Beit Jallah, Gofna is Jifna, Levonah is Luban, etc.). Jewish communities in J&S, Gaza and Golan have renewed ancient Jewish presence, which was violently suspended by Arab and prior aggression. Israel's Founding Fathers were not inspired by the coastal plain (which played a minimal role in forging the Jewish identity), but rather by J&S, Gaza and Golan, which constitute the Cradle of Jewish History. Ben Gurion stated: "The Jewish passport has been the Bible." Statesmen do not negotiate away their Cradle of History, lest they forfeit their national future!