Illegal Israeli Settlements: Evading the Issue

In the furious little battle now being staged for all the world to see, Netanyahu is playing the embattled hero defending the right of (illegal) settlers in (stolen) homes to continue having kids against the evil giant in Washington who loudly demands obedience while whispering that nothing will break the U.S.-Israeli alliance. Maybe this will in prove to have been the moment when Israel’s spell over the U.S. was broken, but so far, it’s much ado about nothing. Note carefully: the argument concerns the acceptability of continuing to rob Palestinians of even more of their dwindling property; that’s all. The idea of actually righting the wrong committed by Israel is not even on the table.

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Israel’s Settlement Policy

the Begin government declared the settlements to be areas of national priority. This meant that the government viewed the construction and development of settlements in the occupied territories as a supreme Israeli interest. And in fact, since then and until today the settlers receive extensive benefits, far beyond what is allocated to any other population in Israel. This is also true for industrialists and business people who build their factories and businesses in the occupied territories.

Since the Begin government, no Israeli government has changed this priority, including the Rabin government, which while it froze settlement construction, paved bypass roads for the settlers, with all their ramifications.

Thus even during the seven years of the Oslo process, no Israeli government changed the policy which viewed the establishment and development of settlements as a supreme Israeli interest! We witnessed a political process, which seemed to most of us to be a peace process, at a time when the occupation actually continued to deepen! And in fact, during the time of the Oslo process, the number of settlers increased from 110,000 to 204,000; Israel demolished more than 1,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories; implemented two expulsions; and confiscated some 40,000 acres of Palestinian land. From the Palestinian point of view, these are unilateral acts of war by an occupying power against a defenseless civilian population.–Amos Gvirtz, Israeli peace activist, from Helena Cobban’s blog

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And we all know what gentlemen do: they compromise. So when even complete submission by Netanyahu to Obama would result in victory for Netanyahu, this issue is really not worth talking about.

If Obama and Netanyahu fiercely contend with each other for days or weeks over the right of illegal settlers to add a new bedroom to the house they built on stolen Palestinian land, either Obama has no idea what he is doing or he is doing exactly what he appears to be doing: play-acting. This discussion is worth absolutely none of Obama’s time, and time is completely on the side of the Zionists. Obama should have moved instantly to something more substantive as soon as he detected the merest murmur of dissent from Netanyahu over settlement expansion. Obama could have:

  • made comments to the media about the importance of placing the long-term security of the Israeli people ahead of career considerations;
  • politely thanked the man for his visit and sent a memo to the Pentagon shutting off the flow of jet fuel;
  • announced his disappointment with the lack of substantive ideas for moving forward from the usual crowd of folks from the region and told Mitchell to initiate public contacts with “all parties” in the region in the search for solutions;
  • stated that he believed war and warlike actions (e.g., threats, aerial violations of borders, collective punishment, economic sanctions) are not solutions.

Obama could have done and still can do lots of things. The one thing he should not do is waste his precious time arguing about nothing. If Obama is going to waste his time effectively cementing Israel’s expansion in place, then he will just prove all the Arab extremists right: the only language that Israeli extremists understand is force.

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