Photo: Reuters
Ettinger says settlements serve important purpose
Photo: Reuters

Six reasons to settle

Settlements are not obstacle to peace; Arab rejection of Israel is

Are the settlements a major source of the conflict?


The initiation of the Arab-Palestinian offensive against Israel is unrelated to the absence or presence of Jews in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza.


The settlements were established after the 1967 war, after the Palestine Liberation Organization’s foundation in 1964, and after the 1948 and 1956 wars.


They also sprung up many years after the 1929 massacre of Hebron Jews and expulsion of Gaza Jews, the uprooting of the Gush Etzion communities in the 1920s, 30s and 40s, and the razing of Kfar Darom in 1948.



Are settlements an obstacle to peace?


If the 1.3 million Israeli Arabs are indeed a model of peaceful coexistence, why are the 250,000 Jews living in Judea, Samaria, Gaza, and the Golan Heights an obstacle to peace?


If the uprooting of Arab communities within the Green Line constitutes a blatant human rights violation, why is the uprooting of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza viewed as a contribution to peace?


The fact we do not even consider a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria under Palestinian sovereignty reflects Palestinian intentions, which are the genuine obstacle to peace.


The Oslo Accords do not place limitations on settlement activity. According to Israeli law, Arabs must not be expelled and private Arab land must not be expropriated for the purpose of establishing settlements.


The settlements as a test of Palestinian aspirations for peace


The hope for peace on the one hand, and the intention to uproot Jewish or Arab communities on the other hand, are at polar opposites.


If the Palestinians cannot swallow the presence of 250,000 Jews, how do they define “peaceful coexistence?” Can we really mention lasting peace and “Judenrein” (an area free of Jews) in the same breath?


The malicious opposition to a Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights is the manifestation of official, long term, deeply entrenched ideology and strategy, which constitute the root of the conflict.


The claim that settlements are on obstacle to peace flies in the face of reality, which makes clear that only a Palestinian recognition of the settlements’ legitimacy would demonstrate a genuine desire for a viable peace settlement.


Would the uprooting of settlements tone down the conflict?


The conflict does not stem from oppression and is not territorial. The Oslo agreement granted the PLO unprecedented hope, brought it back from oblivion, provided it with territory and legitimacy – and therefore led to unprecedented terrorism.


Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered 98 percent of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza, thus igniting the current war.


Indeed, the conflict feeds on the rejection of a sovereign Jewish presence in the Middle East and a hope for Jewish capitulation.


The uprooting of settlements is perceived as a withdrawal and a sign of weakness, and would, therefore, fan the flames of terrorism, particularly in the Middle East, which only recognizes peace premised on deterrence, not feebleness.


Are settlements essential to Israel’s security?


Kfar Darom and Netzarim were established in 1967 due to IDF pressure. Former United States Army Chief of Staff Earl Wheeler recommended that the Gaza Strip be annexed in order to reduce the potential for terrorism by 80 percent.


The 1993-94 disengagement from Gaza and 40 percent of Judea and Samaria tripled the IDF’s deployment and military budget in the Gaza region. Uprooting the settlements would only add to the burden.


Most settlements are located at strategic points in Judea and Samaria and constitute the “Golan Heights” of Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa. They dominate roads, hilltops, and 40 percent of Israel’s water sources.


The settlements also upgrade the IDF’s capabilities and limit the terrorists’ room to maneuver. Hence, uprooting settlements would divert terrorism’s potential wrath to Tel Aviv, Afula, Hadera, and Netanya.


Does Israel have the right to establish settlements in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights?


Former International Court of Justice President Steve Schwebel ruled Israel’s presence in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza is anchored in the right to self-defense, and is therefore not defined as “occupation.”


Although the fourth Geneva Convention applies to aggressors and not to wars of defense, Israel nonetheless follows its principles.


The last legitimate sovereign in Judea, Samaria, and Gaza was the 1922 British Mandate, which designated the area as a Jewish homeland (including settlement activity!), in light of its history and significance to Jewish identity and existence.


Hence, a nation willing to disengage from their historical cradle destroy the basis for its future.


Yoram Ettinger is a consultant on U.S.-Israel relations, Chairman of Special Projects at the Ariel Center for Policy Research and frequent contributor to Yedioth Ahronoth

פרסום ראשון: 06.18.05, 09:37
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