The Biggest Obstacle of Them All: The West Bank and the Israeli Settlements

When looking deep into the concept of Israeli-Palestinian peace, what will always come up is the issue of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.  What do to do about them?  It has to be addressed.  It began when Menachem Begin first led the Likud party to victory, and he stated that he wanted to create a Jewish presence on the West Bank.  Begin was of the old school of Zionist thought, the creation of a Jewish homeland.  But also he was a part of the transition of Zionism from creation of a Jewish homeland to the Jewish homeland co-existing with its Arab neighbors.  He welcomed Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, he agreed to the peace treaty with Egypt, and the withdrawal of Yamit in the Sinai.  So it was not that Begin was an evil Zionist, he was a man of transition from the old school of thought to the present school of thought.  When it comes to the removal of the settlements it is basically the work of non-government organizations (NGOs), and how much influence they have on the political parties of Israel.  One Brit Tzedek v'Shalom is calling for the complete removal.  When I asked Marcia Freedman, the executive director, about Ariel, a settlement of 15,000 people, about its removal, she said "yes" we want to see the removal of Ariel as well.  This leads to the question, how much influence do NGOs such as these have on the three major political parties that have ruled Israel -- Likud, Kadima, and Labor?  Likud started the Israeli settlements, but are the incapable of removing them as well?  Kadima and Labor both support a two-state solution, but how are they going to enact it?  Apparently, there is a non-partisan movement in Israel called "Blue Arrow" calling for the removal of settlements, but I have not heard as of yet, how they plan to start the process of removal.  Removal of the Israeli settlements has to be a process within Israel, it cannot be a U.N. resolution or an American president saying they are illegal.  It must be an Israeli decision, and Israel starting the process of removal, just like when Yamit was dismantled in the Sinai. What happens if the settlers start an armed resistance to removal, will it lead to civil war?  First of all, the settlers in the West Bank do not have the population numbers that the Palestinians in the West Bank do.  Second of all, they would not have the arms equivalent to the Israeli military.  There can be resistance, but not to the magnitude of civil war.  That leads to the next question, can the settlers stay there, and become citizens of an independent Palestine?  At first the Palestinian Authority said they could, then they changed their statement saying first they would  have to leave, then they could come back.  So what is that suppose to mean?  That someone in Ariel would have to go and stay at a hotel in Tel-Aviv, then later they could come back to their home in Ariel?  Which is the reason why Israeli-Palestinian peace needs international mediation, the same way that the Israel-Egypt peace treaty required it.  Start using examples, such as when the Soviet Union broke up into separate independent countries, but ethnic Russians stayed behind.  Latvia held a referendum on whether to make Russian into the second official language.  It was voted down, because Latvia did not want to use the language of the oppressive Czarist empire and Soviet dictatorship.  If Israeli settlers are allowed to stay, then it will have to be the decision of the Palestinian Authority.  But if a Palestinian dignitary were to agree to that, they would risk assassination?  Yes they would.  Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated because he started negotiations with the Palestine LIberation Organization, and allowed areas to be under their control.  Mohandas Gandhi was assassinated because he allowed the partition of Pakistan from India.  But what led them to agree to autonomy?  Not being able to suppress a restive population.  Which leads us back to Israeli-Palestinina peace, not being able to suppress a restive population.  So there are two risks, assassination or even greater yet, not being able to suppress a restive population.  So when it comes to international mediation, this should be the first thing on everybody's mind, this is being done so there will no longer be a restive population.

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I am not sure what past you are talking about about just a couple of weeks ago 200 rockets hsowered on Israel and a million people were forced into shelters... Those who forget (or deny) the past are doomed to repeat it.


I think if you were living in the region you would understand this is not a movie with a happy ending it is a state of war with peopel dying.  I suggest you take off you rose colored glasses and face the hard facts that Islamic terrorism is not going away and Hamas in not simply clowining around.


I think you should try to face teh reality of a radicallized middle east where fanatic Islam is beingcoming more popular and free people more persecuted.  Israel would be crazy to give up any land, take down any settlement in this kind of environment.

If you are that keen to have the settlers stay in the West Bank, it would (probably) be possible on the condition that all Palestinian refugees got to return to their place of origin – if that’s their choice - with good compensation.

The land the settlers occupy would still have to be paid for - at current rates. 


I reckon Palestinians would accept this option. However, I cannot see Israel coming at this - because it appears that Israel would rather forgo peace than accept back the refugees which they forcefully evicted.

Meanwhile, Israel thinks it is totally appropriate that Palestine accept all their illegal settlers!


One of the big - unseen - problems is that Israel never negotiates with the actual refugees, that is the people who once lived in Israeli areas and who now live in refugee camps.   Although 99% of these people will probably accept any solution, the remaining 1% who do not accept decisions they were not allowed to contribute to have the capacity - a demonstrated capacity - to derail every peace initiative.


I doubt that Israel will ever do anything other than ignore the issue of justice for Palestinians, which will leave us all with an neverending impasse.



Hi - you seemed to disappear as soon as someone demonstrates that once again you are creating facts that do not exist and using outragous statemnets that are totally fantasy...

I am still waiting for you to respond to the below post regarding your "factual" comments

So we agree "Before the occupation of the West Bank, Palestine's trade was primarity with Jordan." - makes no sense because there is no such thing as before occupation because Palestine never existed as an independent country...

Now that you wrote another tirade please back it up with numbers, hard numbers that show the ecomomy of the Arabs of the west bank decreasing after 67...  Is what you said true, I have no idea, you tend to just say things and make up facts so, I would appreciate some proof.  If you cannot find proof please retract these statemnets.

I found the following :

"According to the World Bank, the real per capita Gross National Product (GNP) in the occupied territories more than doubled between 1970 and 1980, making it the fourth fastest growing economy in the world. In 1993, the World Bank reported:

The economy of the [occupied territories] grew rapidly between 1968 and 1980 (average annual increase of 7% and 9 percent in real per capita GDP and GNP respectively), triggered by a number of factors, including the rapid integration with Israel and the regional economic boom. In the early years of the occupation, there was a sharp expansion in the employment of unskilled Palestinian labor in Israel and a rise in incomes, which in turn spurred domestic economic activity, especially in the construction sector. Earnings of Palestinian workers in Israel rose from negligible levels in 1968 to almost one quarter of GNP in 1975."

As a matter of fact by 1993 the Palestinain (West Bank and Gaza ) GDP per person was $1450 while Jordan was $1120...

Strange - those Jews are doing all they can to keep the poor Palestinains down but under occupation they actually grow more then their Arab brethren living in freedom.

Please explain.

One of the difficulties with this issue, is that it is dealing with the here and now.  When I looked at the list of French celebrities, born and raised in Algeria, I was surprised at the number.  There are no Israeli celebrities, who were born and raised in West Bank settlements.  The West Bank settlements are a current issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict so that is the reason why it is an extremely flexible issue to work with .  When you talk about Palestinians returning to there homes that are today in Israel.  First of all, those buildings do not physically exist.  Second of all, the majority of Palestinians were born after 1948.  They would be returning to a location that is foreign to them.  So putting so much emphasis on the Palestinians returning to their pre-1948 homes, breaks down into a waste of time.  As for accepting illegal settlers, then Israel will have to make the decision of either returning the settlers back to the pre-1967 borders, or let them stay in an independent Palestine.  For justice for the Palestinians will be having their own nation-state with economic viability and political stability.

I hope you understand this is not about Justice or well being of Palestinaisn... if anyone would have cared they would have emptied teh refugee camps 50 years ago and given them homes... Its about taking Israel apart peice by peice... If you follow Sussans rantings youll see that is all she cares about...


Well first of all, I do not rant.  As for taking Israel a part piece by piece.  Israel has always realized that they will trade land for peace.  It did so when they handed back all of the Sinai to Egypt.  Israel unilateral withdrew from Gaza, and no body pressured Israel to do it.  The reason why Israel withdrew from Gaza is because it could not control a restive population.  But the problem with that restive population, is that it was misled by Hamas.  Which is the reason why we need to bury these idiots once and for all.  They have hurt both the Israeli and the Palestinians.  No one has benefitted from the existence of Hamas.  Hamas is nothing more than shit on a stick.  Also, we cannot go in and negate the past, what has happened as happened.  The refugee camps were not emptied out, but a way to correct this, is to have an independent Palestine.  This goes in line with what Israel has always believed in, trading land for peace.  Both the Kadima and Labor parties greatly recognize this, which is the reason why I hope elections can be called for soon in Israel, to try to get lethargic Likud out.  If Israel continues to hold on to the West Bank, it will always have a restive population to contend with, which is the reason why international mediation is needed so the Palestinians there will not be misled the way the citizens of Gaza where misled by Hamas.

"Those who forget the past, are condemned to relive it."  It sound nice, but you have to look into the fact of its likelihood.  When the United States went into its financial crises of 2008, and Alan Greenspan who was chairman of the Federal Reserve at that time, he was grilled in Congressional testimony, and said "I was flawed in thinking that banks could police themselves."  Banks could not police themselves then, and they could not police themselves in 1919, when they made it easier for the German government to take out loans to make their war reparation payments.  Which was one of the causes of the Great Depression.  The past came back to haunt us.  But when Ireland went through their massive famine in the 1840s, did it go through it again?  No, but one thing it did do, is make the Irish people restive against British rule.  Which started as armed rebellion in 1916, but Ireland did not get its independence from armed rebellion.  It get it through negotiations in 1921.  So we can draw a lot of things from the past, both replicas of history, and history serving as an example.  There are two things that feed fanatically Islam.  First of all, money.  We all need money to survive.  When Iran was expelled from SWIFT, it could no longer price its oil on the international market.  Iran is the world's fourth largest exporter of oil, and its economy has been impacted since its expulsion from SWIFT.  The United States led to get it expelled from SWIFT, to put a strangle hold on its plan for nuclear weapons development.  The second one is what appeals to voters.  If a political party anywhere starts either saying or apply services that appeal to voters, that political party is going to win an election.  Whether it is Likud in Israel, Republicans in the United States, or Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.  But once again, their popularity will be maintained with how well they can handle the economy.  If Israel does not give up the West Bank, then it can it continue to try to maintain control over its restive population?  Because it is around 300,000 people in a sea of over 3,000,000 people.  With a nation-state, one of those people will have to become the administrators.  It can be 300,000 Israelis over 3,000,000 Palestinians.  But are things always going to be humble with that setup?  So if Israel keeps control over the West Bank, it will have to hope that sooner of later the settlers will start becoming the majority.

The fact that you would put Republicans, Likud and teh Muslim brotherhood in teh same sentane shows how flawd any argument you are going to make, will be.  Regarding this majority issue it is simply a joke and non-issue.  That Arabs have 8 kids will not change if they have a state or not.  As long as they are not in teh Israeli electorit why does them having a state change any demopgraphic issues...

I never said you what I wrote.


Once again you miss the point ever time Israel has given the Palestinains land all they recived was war,period.  As for controlling a rsistive population, currently 95% of Palestinains' day to day lives are ruled by a Palestinain authority.  It is not a question of ruling over a population but over land... There are large strips of empty land in teh West Bank, auqifers etc... who will take control over them, the population is mostly taken care of...

First of all, there is a big difference between autonomy or "home rule" and independence.  Begin first entertained the notion of autonomy or "home rule."  Rabin took it to the level of reality, which is one of the reasons he was assassinated.  Palestinians now have home rule under the administration of the Palestinian Authority.  It can be said they are just going to have to live with it.  But will they?  Just like nation-states such as Ireland or Algeria could not live with just "home rule." There had to be independence.  The same applies to the Palestinians, like the Irish and Algerians they will not live with just "home rule."  This ties in with the issue of land, for land is one of the components of a nation-state.  For there to be a two-state solution, then the land which makes up the West Bank, will have to be turned into the nation-state of Palestine.  As for giving land to Palestinians that is just used as theaters of war, this goes back to the concept of nation-state.  When there is economic viability, then that deflects away from the need to wage war.  One of the reasons why there are rocket firings out of Gaza, is because it is so destitute, that Israeli airstrikes are not hurting its economy -- their economy is already hurt, because there is no economic viability.  Republicans, Likud, and the Muslim Brotherhood were all placed in the same sentence, because they all control economies.  If any of them lose an election, it is going to be because how the economy operated when they were in office.  That is the reason why Hamas will probably fade away after the Palestinian elections, because of the horrible way they have ran the economy of Gaza.  Demographics comes into this with the Israeli settlers numbering no more than 300,000, and the Palestinians numbering around 3,000,000 in the West Bank.  So will the Palestinians just live with "home rule?"  Economics comes into this with the fact that the Palestinian have not achieve economic viability yet.

I think you are forgetting rocket attacks started before Hamas took over, when the Palestinans had teh most open economy ever...some of the worst bombing attacks were during Rabin time when hope was at the highest.... IT has nothing to do with economics...its simply about the need to destroy Israel and kill Jews.... Watch Palestinaan TV or see their text books..... like I said the situation is not a normal one when you put Islamic fundementalism in the mix.

Like i said before Hamas will never fade away and even if they loose elections will never leave power, I give you the example of every other dictatorship... Furthermore, even if they by chnace decide to leave there would still be plent of Jihadist more then happy to kill.  I feel liek you are living in a fantasy world, look what is actually happening.


As for demographics once agin argument makes no sense that there will be more Arabs then Jews on this side of teh river soon so we better give them a state - no sense at all!

"Republicans, Likud, and the Muslim Brotherhood were all placed in the same sentence, because they all control economies" - no what they have in common is they are all "radicals" in your mind... If you really meant this you would have send Democrats since they actually control the US ecomomy.... please at least be honest.

I have seen television coming out of Gaza, and I have seen school textbooks in the West Bank.  They can state "Kill the Jews, kill they Jews."  Saying is one thing, building people into fervor is another.  In Nazi Germany they only way that people were built into fervor, was by voting in the Nazi Party.  When it came to killing the Jews, it was not the populace that voted them in.  But the military and the private companies they requisitioned.  When liberating the concentration camps, they had German civilians march into them, to see what the results were of the party that they voted in.  It is the same way with the Palestinians, the results of the party they voted in.  If you went to every single Palestinians and asked them to you support killing off all of the Jews, do you think that they would all say "yes?"  What about the Palestinians we have on this network, are they Palestinians that support killing off all of the Jews?  I have met Palestinians in Gaza, who said "separate us from the Jews," but I never met one that said kill them all off.  So is the mechanics of mass extermination of the Jews in place?  This goes back to saying is one thing, building up into fervor is another.  When there was attacks when Rabin was prime minister, that was done by the Palestine Liberation Organization.  The same organization that shook hands with Rabin and who changed its platform in 1993 to recognize the State of Israel.  As for the current status of Hamas, they are under enormous pressure by the Muslim Brotherhood -- the organization who they model themselves after -- to change their platform to go in line with Al Fatah. the same political party that came out of the Palestine LIberation Organization.  As for demographics in the West Bank, can Israel always be able to maintain control over the Palestinians there?  If they use the tactics now that they are being so heavily criticized for, and it is fair for Israel to be under that type of criticism all of the time?  Israel has a lot to contribute to the international community, and co-existence with the Arab populations can be one of them.  As for political allegiance, we all have them, but mine is not so extremist.  I am a registered Democrat, so I never voted for Ronald Reagan, and there are many things he did as president, that I was critical of.  But also there is a lot I can draw from Ronald Reagan.  Especially, when he referred to the Soviet Union as "an evil empire."  When in Moscow, for negotiation with Gorbachev, he was asked by a journalist, what happened to your evil empire.  Reagan answered by saying "That was another time, another place."  Such like when Rabin shook hands with Arafat on the White House lawn.  Another time, another place.  We need to continue this "another time, another place" concept, and get away from this "kill the Jews, kill the Jews."  Because the only thing it is doing, is ringing inside of peoples heads.



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