Sunday, July 20, 2008

Settlements vs. settlement

If you were an Israeli, why would you want to build more settlements in the West Bank?

  1. West Bank? Where's that? We're building our birthright in Judea and Samaria. This is the Zionist fanatic's answer. It assumes that YHWH granted the land in perpetuity to his chosen people. There is no prospect of peace down this path.
  2. The settlers are an important coalition partner. This is the domestic politician's answer. It trades electoral success now for more difficulty in the future. In the long run - is there any other? - it condemns Israel and the Palestinians to perpetual conflict.
  3. We're creating facts on the ground. This is the statesman's (Risk-player's) answer. What they're not saying is that these facts will eventually have to be traded away for the Palestinian right of return, which for Israel is a never-happen, non-starting method of slow suicide. But see #2.
  4. It's our answer to terror. Settlement expansion provides a goad to the Palestinians to seek peace whenever they choose war ... or vote for Hamas. Uh, how's that working out so far?
  5. What have I missed?
I used to think without any claim of particular insight that the shape of an eventual settlement between Israel and Palestine was obvious:
  • Palestinians give up right of return.
  • Israelis give up the settlements. They'd probably have to retrench the wall to the 1967 border, too, but I have no problem with the wall itself.
  • Palestinians get the old Arab Quarter in Jerusalem for their capital.
  • Palestinians commit to the existence of Israel as a Jewish state.
  • Compensation and economic aid for both sides from the U.S., Europe, and Russia (yeah, sure). After all, we midwifed this problem by expiating our guilt over the Holocaust onto contested land.
  • No heavy weapons for the Palestinians, but outside military guarantees, probably from Europe since neither the U.S. (too pro-Israeli) nor the U.N. (too pro-Palestinian) would be seen as an honest broker.
As time passes, though, I'm much less sure that a lasting Israeli majority or anyone on the Palestinian side would make any kind of deal other than the unconditional surrender of the other side. And that just isn't going to happen.

If Duhbya bought the PNAC program that intervening militarily in Middle East religious conflicts could solve the Israel-Palestine problem, and it appears he did, maybe he invaded the wrong place. Yeah, sure.

Maybe a solution has to bubble up from the bottom? How about two changes:
  • A guaranteed job for every Palestinian male between 17 and 65. Help them have something to lose and keep most of them too tired for conspiracies.
  • The end of blanket military deferments for all groups in Israel, notably the ultra-orthodox. Help them have something to lose, too.
Ideas? Anyone? Because what we've had so far sure as hell hasn't worked.

Update (6/24/2011) - minor editorial improvements.


H. Shadman said...

The reason it hasn't worked (and will not work) is one sided support of Israel from America.

Lets face it, Israel is there and you cannot just not have it any more. So the Jews are there to stay and they must have a place (The Europeans who killed millions of jews should have given a part of their land to them in compensation, but they decided to get rid of them completely and take someone else land to give them, Oh yes, I forgot YHWH promised this land)

If, when Israel does something against the UN resolution, it should be punished as well but ther have been over 170 resolution in UN that has been ignored by Israel and vetoed by US only.

So who cares about the Palestinians just as long no harm comes to Israel policy of US will never solve this problem.

Cal Piston said...

Brown's comments are a start. More "world leaders" need to visit the area and see what things are going on. Lajee Center at Aida camp in Bethlehem would be a place to start. And there are places in Israel where Arabs and Jews coexist quite nicely. The "settlers" should be referred to as terrorists in the western news. Reading the typical story coming from this area has such bias in the terminology that very few care what happens to the palestinians.

lovable liberal said...

Not sure why terrorist would be appropriate in general. Maybe you could explain. Squatter, sure, but, AFAIK, only a relative few have murdered for ideology.

Also, after sixty years, it's time to stop calling Palestinian cities camps. That sustains the vain hope that they're temporary way stations before the Palestinians win the right of return, which is effectively synonymous with the destruction of Israel. It is past time to make them decent cities, however, with modern infrastructure and economies.

Cal said...

There is a piece of land on the east side of Beit Sahour (adjacent to Bethlehem. This land, which Israelis call Shdema and the Palestinians call Ush Ghrab, was a military base for Jordan before 1967. Then the Israelis used it as a base until mid 2006. Since then, the Israeli government gave part of the land to the municipality of Beit Sahour to develop a park, recreation area, and other things - there are plans for a hospital to be built there. Several NGO's have contributed and there is now a park with play equipment, a climbing wall, a snack bar, picnic area, etc. with more planned. On May 15, a group of settlers came to the land and that day the Israeli army and police closed the place off until they could convince the settlers to leave. We were there at the time. The settlers returned each Friday for 2 or 3 weeks and then on July 15 150 settlers and supporters came and spent the night. This caused a day camp for Palestinian youth to be cancelled. In these incidents, while there was no "murder" there was a lot of hatred and use of terroristic threatening. I would indeed use the word "terrorist" to describe the group I saw. They want all arabs out of their land (all of the land from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River). Settlements are often started on farmland, but sometimes they have bulldozed buildings, including houses, to take over the land.

Your last point is well-taken. The Palestinian idea that they will be allowed to return to their pre-1948 land needs to be put to rest, but it is a deep, deep idea.