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Settlements Freeze – an Obstacle to Peace!

Abu Mazen’s September 23, 2011 UN speech and the Palestinian Authority’s education system reaffirm the fact that Jewish settlements within pre-1967 Israel – and not in Judea and Samaria (J&S) – are the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.


In his UN speech, Abu Mazen highlighted the “63 years old occupation” since 1948; this message is reinforced throughout his K-12 education system. He heralded the PLO – which was established three years before the 1967 War and before the establishment of contemporary Jewish settlement in J&S – as his supreme authority. Abu Mazen denies the existence of Jewish roots between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.


Thus, the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not the J&S settlements, but the existence of the Jewish State.


Freezing Jewish settlements in J&S diverts attention away from the core cause of the conflict. Moreover, it constitutes an obstacle to peace, by reflecting submission to pressure, thus fueling further pressure, radicalizing Arab demands, intensifying Arab terrorism and eroding Israel’s posture of deterrence, while the only peace-possible is deterrence-driven peace.


The pre-1967 area of Israel was the focus of the systematic campaign of Arab terrorism during the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, as well as of the conventional Arab wars on Israel in 1948, 1956 and 1967.


A giveaway of all Jewish settlements in J&S was offered by former Prime Minister Ehud Barak in October 2000. Abu Mazen and Arafat responded with an unprecedented wave of suicide bombings in pre-1967 Israeli towns, which are defined as “settlements” by Abu Mazen’s school textbooks.


The September 2005 uprooting of 25 Jewish settlements in J&S and Gaza induced an unprecedented barrage of missiles, hitting Jewish settlements in pre-1967 Israel.


If the 350,000 Jews, among 1.6MN Arabs, in J&S constitute an obstacle to peace, are the 1.5MN Arabs, among 6MN Jews, within pre-1967 Israel, an insurmountable obstacle to peace?!


If Jewish construction in J&S should be frozen, lest it prejudge the outcome of negotiations, then Arab construction in J&S should be frozen as well, unless one wishes to prejudge the outcome of negotiations.
If the uprooting of Jewish communities advances peace, why would the uprooting of Arab communities undermine peace?!
The uprooting of Arabs communities would be immoral; so, too, is the uprooting of Jewish communities.
No opposition to an Arab presence in pre-1967 Israel should be tolerated; so, too, should the opposition to a Jewish presence in J&S.


Illegal Jewish homes in J&S are razed by Israel; so, too, should the 1,100 illegal Arab homes built annually in Jerusalem and the thousands of illegal Arab homes in J&S?


The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of J&S was recognized by only Britain and Pakistan. The most recent internationally-recognized sovereign over J&S was the 1922 British Mandate, which defined J&S as part of the Jewish National Homeland. Article 6 of that Mandate acknowledges the right of Jews to settle in J&S. Judge Stephen Schwebel, former President of the International Court of Justice, determined that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria was rooted in self-defense and therefore did not constitute “occupation.” Eugene Rostow, former Dean of Yale Law School, former Undersecretary of State and co-author of UN Security Council Resolution 242, asserted that 242 entitled Jews to settle in J&S. The Oslo Accord does not prohibit the construction of Jewish settlements in J&S. Moreover, settlements are established on state-owned – and not private – land.

Peaceful coexistence and the determination to uproot Jewish or Arab communities constitute an oxymoron.  The concepts of “Durable peace” and “Judenrhein areas” contradict each other. The litmus test of Palestinian/Arab intent is the acceptance or rejection of Jewish settlements presence in J&S.


Jewish settlements in J&S are not the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They are located at the roots of 4,000 years old Jewish religious and national aspirations. They are located at the crux of Israel’s national security which also provides 40% of Israel’s water supply. The mountain ridges and water aquifers of J&S are the “Golan Heights” of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and 80% of Israel’s transportation, business, economic, health, education, scientific and irrigation infrastructure in the 9-15 miles wide sliver, which is the pre-1967 Israel.


Freezing of Jewish construction in J&S is not a peace-enhancer; it is an appeasement-enhancer, thus undermining the cause of peace and advancing the cause of war.


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Open letter to Prime Minister Bennett ahead of visit to USA

(Hebrew edition in “Israel Hayom,” Israel’s largest circulation daily)

During your first official visit to Washington, DC, you’ll have to choose between two options:

*Blurring your deeply-rooted, assertive Israeli positions on the future of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), which would be welcome by the Biden Administration, yielding to short-term political convenience and popularity inside the beltway;


*Tenaciously advocating your deeply-rooted, principle-driven positions, which would underscore a profound disagreement with the Biden Administration and the “elite” US media, while granting you and Israel long-term strategic respect, as demonstrated by some of your predecessors.

For example, the late Prime Minister Shamir honed the second option, bluntly introduced his assertive Israeli positions on Judea and Samaria, rebuffed heavy US pressure – including a mudslinging campaign by President Bush and Secretary of State Baker – suffered a popularity setback, but produced unprecedented expansion of US-Israel strategic cooperation. When it comes to facing the intensified threats of rogue regimes and Islamic terrorism, the US prefers principle-driven, reliable, patriotic, pressure-defying partners, irrespective of disagreements on the Palestinian issue.

Assuming that you shall not budge on the historical and national security centrality of Judea and Samaria, it behooves you to highlight the following matters during your meetings with President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, National Security Advisor Sullivan, Secretary of Defense Austin and Congressional leaders (especially the members of the Appropriations Committees):

  1. The 1,400-year-old track record of the stormy, unpredictable, violent and anti-“infidel” Middle East, which has yet to experience intra-Arab peaceful-coexistence, along with the 100-year-old Palestinian track record (including the systematic collaboration with anti-US entities, hate-education and anti-Arab and anti-Jewish terrorism) demonstrates that the proposed Palestinian state would be a Mini-Afghanistan or a Mega-Gaza on the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria.

It would dominate 80% of Israel’s population and infrastructures in the 9-15-mile sliver between Judea and Samaria and the Mediterranean, which is shorter than the distance between RFK Stadium and the Kennedy Center.

Thus, a Palestinian state would pose a clear and present existential threat to Israel; and therefore, Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria is a prerequisite for its survival.

  1. The proposed Palestinian state would undermine US interests, as concluded from the Palestinian intra-Arab track record, which has transformed the Palestinians into a role-model of intra-Arab subversion, terrorism and ingratitude. Arabs are aware that a Palestinian state would add fuel to the Middle East fire, teaming up with their enemies (e.g., Iran’s Ayatollahs, the Muslim Brotherhood and Turkey’s Erdogan) and providing a strategic foothold to Russia and China. Consequently, Arabs shower Palestinians with favorable talk, but with cold and negative walk.

Hence, during the October, 1994 Israel-Jordan peace treaty ceremony, Jordan’s military leaders asserted to their Israeli colleagues that a Palestinian state west of the Jordan River would doom the pro-US Hashemite regime east of the River, and lead, subsequently, to the toppling of all pro-US Arab Peninsula regimes.

  1. There is no foundation for the contention that Israel’s retreat from the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria – which are the cradle of Jewish history, religion and culture – is required in order to sustain Israel’s Jewish majority. In reality, there is unprecedented Jewish demographic momentum, while Arab demography – throughout the Middle East – has Westernized dramatically. The Jewish majority in the combined area of Judea, Samaria and pre-1967 Israel benefits from a robust tailwind of fertility and migration.
  2. Israel’s control of the mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria and the Golan Heights, bolsters its posture of deterrence, which has daunted rogue regimes, reduced regional instability, enhanced the national security of all pro-US Arab regimes, and has advanced Israel’s role as a unique force-multiplier for the US. An Israeli retreat from Judea and Samaria would transform Israel from a strategic asset – to a strategic liability – for the US.
  3. As the US reduces its military presence in the Middle East – which is a global epicenter of oil production, global trade (Asia-Africa), international Islamic terrorism and proliferation of non-conventional military technologies – Israel’s posture of deterrence becomes increasingly critical for the pro-US Arab countries (e.g., Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman, Jordan), who consider Israel to be the most reliable “life insurance agent” in the region.

Contrary to NATO, South Korea and Japan, Israel’s defense does not require the presence of US troops on its soil.

  1. Sustaining Israel’s Qualitative Military Edge is a mutual interest for the US and Israel, which serves as the most cost-effective battle-tested laboratory for the US defense industries and armed forces. Thus, Israel’s use of hundreds of US military systems has yielded thousands of lessons (operation, maintenance and repairs), which have been integrated, by the US manufacturers, into the next generation of the military systems, saving the US many years of research and development, increasing US exports and expanding the US employment base – a mega billion dollar bonanza for the US. At the same time, the US armed forces have benefitted from Israel’s military intelligence and battle experience, as well as joint training maneuvers with Israel’s defense forces, which has improved the US formulation of battle tactics.

Prime Minister Bennett, your visit to Washington, is an opportunity to demonstrate your adherence to your deeply-rooted strong Israeli positions, rejecting the ill-advised appeals and temptations to sacrifice Israel’s national security on the altar of convenience and popularity.

Yours truly,

Yoram Ettinger, expert on US-Israel relations and Middle East affairs

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