After every terror attack, we keep hearing that the response should be further construction. Another outpost. Another legalization of an already existing outpost. As our dead lie before us, the outcry is received with open ears. And indeed, the government convened to approve another outpost and to discuss another expansion.
Is this the answer to terror? In Ehud Barak’s short term as prime minister, settlement construction reached new heights. Yes, the last left-wing government we had in Israel actually expanded the controversial enterprise. Did it help reduce terror? No, it was a wasted effort.
Those days, when I spoke to Marwan Barghouti about the change I felt he was undergoing, from a supporter of peace to a supporter of violence, he said to me: “Come see the construction boom on the ground. Are you telling me Israel seriously wants an agreement?”
He was wrong. There was a construction boom, but it was limited to the settlement blocs which would have anyway remained in Israel’s hands as part of the agreement that wasn’t achieved. The construction at the time didn’t undermine the chance for a separation or Barak’s generous peace proposal. Today’s expansion, which is stretching beyond the blocs, is aimed at thwarting any attempt to reach an agreement or a separation.
The pain over the two murders isn’t limited to the settlers. This pain is felt by the absolute majority of Israelis. And there’s no justification for letting one public’s outcry dictate a policy which is only pushing us deeper into the mud.
As part of the road map for peace, Israel promised—according to the right-wing version too—to remove 24 outposts that were built after March 2001. That didn’t happen. Israel didn’t evacuate them. Before demanding that the Palestinians fulfill their part of the agreement, Israel must fulfill its own part.
And not only did Israel violate the agreement, but last week the government decided to turn the community of Havat Gilad, which was built in 2002, into a permanent community—the complete opposite of the international commitment.
We can reach an international agreement on an expansion limited to the settlement blocs, which will never be evacuated. But the Havat Gilad outpost is located outside the blocs. It belongs to those communities whose establishment and existence are milestones on the road towards turning the State of Israel into one big state. And if the government works to implement the one-state vision following every act of terror, we must admit the Zionist vision is being defeated by terror.