Photo: Gabi Menashe
Yoram Ettinger
Photo: Gabi Menashe
Critical obstacle to peace?
President Obama wrong to consider 'settlements' an obstacle to peace
In September 2005, Israel uprooted 25 Jewish communities from Gaza and Samaria. Gaza became Judenrein, in order to, ostensibly, advance peaceful coexistence. However, expectations were frustrated. The dismantling of the Jewish communities was perceived by Arabs as a further erosion of Ariel Sharon, the role model of Jewish tenacity. It induced escalation of smuggling, manufacturing and launching of missiles at Jewish communities in southern Israel. It paved the way to the meteoric rise of Hamas. But, Obama regards "settlements" as a critical obstacle to peace….


President Obama defines "settlements" as the root cause of Arab hostility toward the Jewish State. However, the Arab-Palestinian offensive against the Jewish State was not ignited by "settlements." In fact, "settlements" were established in Judea and Samaria after the wars of 1967, 1956 and 1948, after the sustained 1949-1967 campaign of Arab terrorism, after the 1964 establishment of the PLO, after the 1929 slaughter of the Hebron Jewish community and the 1929 expulsion of the Gaza Jewish community, after the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s slaughter of the Jewish community of Gush Etzion, etc. But, Obama regards "settlements" as a critical obstacle to peace….


President Obama considers the 300,000 Jews (17%), who reside among Judea and Samaria's 1.5 million Arabs, an obstacle to peace. Why would he, then, view the 1.4 million Arabs (20%), who reside among pre-1967 Israel's six million Jews, as an example of peaceful coexistence?


Obama urges the uprooting of Jewish communities from Judea and Samaria, in order to supposedly advance peace and human rights. Would he, therefore, urge the uprooting of Arab communities from pre-1967 Israel?


Since Obama tolerates Arab opposition to any Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria – even under Arab rule - would he tolerate Jewish opposition to any Arab presence in pre-1967 Israel? While any attempt by Jews to reside in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas would trigger a lynching attempt, Arabs have peacefully resided within Israeli-controlled areas in Judea and Samaria and in pre-1967 Israel. Does such a reality alert President Obama to the nature of Arab intentions and the real obstacle to peace? But, Obama regards "settlements" as a critical obstacle to peace….


Obama pressures Israel, vociferously, to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, in order to avoid unilateral creation of facts on the ground. Shouldn't Obama demand a similar freeze of Palestinian construction in Judea and Samaria, which is 30 times larger than Jewish construction? Does the absence of a balanced approach, by Obama, prejudge the outcome, thus severely violating the spirit of negotiation? Does it reward Arab terrorism, undermining Israel's posture of deterrence, and therefore radicalizing Arab expectations, demands and violence? But, Obama regards "settlements" as a critical obstacle to peace….


The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan. The most recent internationally-recognized sovereign over Judea and Samaria was the League of Nations-authorized 1922 British Mandate, which defined Judea and Samaria as part of the Jewish National Home, the cradle of Jewish history. Article 6 of the Mandate indicates the right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria.


Judge Stephen M. 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 and former Undersecretary of State and co-author of UN Security Council Resolution 242, asserted that 242 entitles Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria. The Oslo Accord and its derivatives do not prohibit "settlements." Moreover, Israel has constrained construction to state-owned – and not private – land, avoiding expulsion of Arabs landowners. But, Obama regards "settlements" as a critical obstacle to peace….


President Obama is facing unprecedented challenges of a melting economy, healthcare reforms, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a potential post-evacuation volcano in Iraq, North Korean and Iranian nuclear threats, a possible nuclearization of al-Qaeda, Islamic terrorist threats to pro-US Arab regimes, imperialist Russia and China, an increasingly violent border with Mexico, Hugo Chavez' "mischief," etc. But, Obama claims that he is preoccupied with "settlements" because they are, seemingly, a critical obstacle to peace….


Obama's pressure to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria diverts attention and resources from the crucial threat to peace: Arab rejection of the existence – and not just the size – of a Jewish State in the supposedly abode-of-Islam. Inadvertently, Obama is adding fuel, and not water, to the fire of Middle East turbulence and violence. But, Obama regards "settlements" as a critical obstacle to peace….


Yoram Ettinger is a US and Middle Eastern affairs expert


פרסום ראשון: 06.17.09, 18:33
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