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Israel: more settlement expansion « Previous | |Next »
March 22, 2005

Though Israel intends to quit the 17 settlements in occupied Gaza Strip, Haaretz reports that Israel plans to build 3,500 new homes in the West Bank to cement its hold on Jerusalem. So the Sharon Israeli government, like the previous Israeli governments of both left and right, remains committed to, and continues to pursue a Greater Israel.

Contrast this with the paragraph below from the editorial in The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council's (AIJAC) Review about the end of the four-year conflict between Israel and the Palestinians written by Colin Rubenstein. It says:

Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's plan for unilateral disengagement from Gaza and part of the northern West Bank also factors into the equation. The withdrawal plan has demonstrated to Palestinians that Israel has viable alternatives to simply enduring terror or conceding all Palestinians demands. It also proves to Palestinians, the Arab world, and international mediators that Ariel Sharon is a leader who can deliver politically painful concessions on settlements and territorial compromise. But Palestinian terrorism remains the critical issue.

So the Review interprets the roadmap peace plan as calling for dismantling terror infrastructure as one of the first obligations on the Palestinian side.

Is not the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories a critical issue also? The Palestinians certainly think so. Should not Israel evacuate them? The Review is silent on that expanisonism.

What Rubenstein does highlight is the issue of the right of return of the Palestinian refugees to their homeland. He says that:

The most important [unresolved issue]is the legally baseless, but iconic, "right of return" for the descendants of Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war to Israel. Abbas has committed himself to the achievement of "right", but it is universally viewed in Israel as a formula to destroy the Jewish state through demographic means. Israel is not about to commit national suicide in order to accommodate Arab demands or Europe's instinct for appeasement. As long as the extremist Palestinians continue to dream of the day they will be able to either wipe Israel off the map, or demographically convert Israel into a second Palestinian state, no real peace will be achievable.

All the fault is on the Palestinian side. If the road ahead is long and strewn with obstacles, then it is the Palestinians who are putting the obstacles in the way of peace. No mention is ever made of Israeli settlement expansionism that prevents the viability of a Palestinian state.

Why the silence on the settlements in the occupied territories?

The Israeli Government's key problem is to hold on to effective control of the Occupied Territories by annexing as much of the land as it can without absorbing too many Palestinians. This would ensure a Greater Israel and a Jewish state. What then happens to Arab Jews in a Jewish state? Do Arab Jews have to choose between being Jews and being Arabs?

So we have the continuation of settlement-building in the West Bank, (118 settlements so far) which Israel will not be withdrawing from.

Can we infer that Colin Rubenstein takes a hard line on Palestinian demands and security issues, and supports the expansion of settlements?

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:51 AM | | Comments (0)