The point of no return
Half a million Jews beyond Green Line make West Bank’s evacuation impossible
Half a million people. Half a million Jewish Israelis are living beyond the Green Line, the Israel-Jordan border prior to1967. A total of 200,000 reside in areas defined by Israel as part of the greater Jerusalem and annexed. Another 300,000 live in the rest of Judea and Samaria (or the West Bank.)
The socioeconomic status of the Jewish population beyond the 1967 borders is not homogenous: The Jewish neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and nearby towns (such as Maale Adumim) are home to established middle-class families that enjoy a relatively high standard of living and high employment rates.
Meanwhile, the longtime communities (such as Karnei Shomron) are home to the second generation of followers of the Greater Israel doctrine who moved there for religious and ideological reasons. They too are well off.
On the other hand, in most of the new communities (such as Beitar Ilit,) we see a very high percentage of haredi Jews, with low participation rates in the workforce and with high poverty rates.
The natural growth of the Jewish population beyond the Green Line is high, about 2% a year. This is complemented by an endless stream of families who move to the territories for economic and social reasons. These are mostly haredi and religious families that find in Judea and Samaria what they cannot afford in Israel: Reasonably priced housing, plenty of government support, and a religious environment.
Should the number of Jews in Judea and Samaria, including east Jerusalem, continue to grow at the current rate, the Jewish population there will comprise about 750,000 people by 2025. Yet even today, when the number is “merely” 500,000, the Jewish settlement enterprise in the territories has to a large extent determined Israel’s fate.
Let’s just ask ourselves what would have happened in Israel itself without what is known as the “settlement enterprise.” Where would another half a million women, children, and men live within the 1967 borders? How many new towns, neighborhoods, and communities would have to be built? What kind of infrastructure would have to be built? How many additional roads would we need to pave, instead of the ones paved in the West Bank, some of them for Israelis only? And what would have happened to the population density in central Israel and in western Jerusalem?
It’s too late
The evacuation of 8,000 Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and their absorption in Israel cost taxpayers NIS 10 billion. Those interested in turning back time and evacuating Israelis from the areas beyond the 1967 borders would have to invest NIS 600 billion for that end. An unreal figure.
Without the Palestinians grasping the process, and without most of Israeli citizens giving it some thought, the areas beyond the 1967 borders have become the main absorption area for new Israeli citizens: New immigrants from the former Soviet Union, young Jerusalemites, haredim facing economic distress, etc. The “territories” served as Israel’s territorial backbone, and played this role with great success.
Israel’s Leftist camp believes that it has the upper hand, referring as ultimate proof to Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyau’s declaration in favor of a Palestinian state, albeit with some conditions. Yet the Left is wrong: While it was engaged in the futile “diplomatic process,” the active Rightist camp, with the backing and assistance of all of Israel’s governments with the exception of one, engaged in developing Jewish settlements in the territories.
Half a million Jews beyond the Green Line constitute the point of no return. The talk about a “construction freeze” or “construction suspicion” at certain settlements are a joke and an insurance policy for the leaders – in Israel, in Palestine, and in the world – who know deep in their hearts that the decision had been made.
What we have here is two peoples that cannot be divided: A mixture of Jews and Palestinians that cannot be separated. It’s too late.