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The Ultimate 'Settlements Are Not the Problem’ Article

Also see my article, "Al Gore Sells Out (to al-Jazira)"


It must be a new year. The Washington Post has an editorial explaining that Israeli settlements are not the main problem in the Middle East. The Post editorial is amazing, since such sanity is so rare. It begins:

Two mistaken but widely held notions regarding Israeli-Palestinian peace are that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible.

And then it continues by laying down a detailed, factual case that’s worth repeating:

-- “Following the 1993 Oslo accords, Prime Minister Netanyahu's government, like several before it, has limited building almost entirely to areas that both sides expect Israel to annex through territorial swaps in an eventual settlement ... ”

-- Almost all of the Jewish settlers live on only four percent of the West Bank, the sector that Israel has been seeking to annex as part of a peace plan that was first presented twelve years ago.

-- Israel’s latest construction, which will connect Maale Adumim -- a short walk from Jerusalem -- with the rest of the city is hardly the destruction of any chance for peace which has been portrayed in much of the Western media and by some Western governments. The worst-case scenario would be that if this corridor determined the ultimate border between two states, Palestinian motorists might have to take a detour of about ten minutes.

-- Those who “are really interested in progress toward Palestinian statehood … will press [Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud] Abbas to stop using settlements as an excuse for intransigence -- and cool their own overheated rhetoric.”

One of the questions I’m most often asked is about Israeli settlements. It is ridiculously easy to prove they are not the factor preventing Israel-Palestinian peace. I favor the eventual dismantlement of almost all of them -- but only if and when there is a comprehensive peace which results in the annexation of some -- that would be in Palestine's territory.

That is a long way off.

The problem with demonstrating that settlements are not the problem is that it is so hard to get those arguments to a big audience in the West. Many people also have a pre-1993 image of the situation in their minds. Briefly, here are two points that make the case: the first shows that the claims about settlements are contrary to the facts; the second that they are contrary to logic.