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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The bigger question that should be asked, Tim, is why have suicide bombings declined so drastically after the "wall" was built? In answer to your question on settlements, it would be instructive to point out that these are built on land that has never been inhabited by any Palestinian or has in the past been Jewish owned and Jewish inhabited prior to 1948.

There is only so much that the Israeli populace will accept with the misnamed "peace for land" formula as we gave land but received NO peace.

It is irrespective that the settlements were built on land never owned by Palestinians, but in order to have a two-state solution, then the land that the settlements are on will have to be incorporated into an independent Palestine. The on-going controversy of Jews living in the West Bank, goes back further then 1948, it actually goes back to 1929.  If the settlements are not removed, then there should be the option that the settlers stay and become citizens of Palestine.  As for the remark made by the Palestinian ambassador to the United States, that first they must leave, but later come back, does not make any sense whatsoever.  Which is the reason why international mediation has to be involved, to create realistic proposals.  As for withdrawal from territory captured in 1967, Israel unilateral withdrew from Gaza, not for peace for land, but to rid of itself of a restive population.  That is the reason why Israel needs to withdrawal from the West Bank.  But the difference between Gaza and the West Bank, is that Gaza is ran by Hamas, and the West Bank is ran by Al Fatah.  But Hamas has relinquished power to Al Fatah, and that is what has become the negotiating partner with Israel.  If Israel were to hold on to the West Bank, it would be a little more than 300,000 settlers trying to control a population of about 3,000,000 Palestinians.  Will Israel always be able to maintain that?

I have some more recent information.  A press release dated March 24, 2012, stated that the Muslim Brotherhood WILL honor the 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and is strongly encouraging Hamas to do it as well.  Even though Hamas is an extension of the Muslim Brotherhood, it still sees Hamas as a renegade.  So the much supposedly feared Muslim Brotherhood is dealing with reality.  Realizing it must honor the peace treaty, and calling upon their brethren to do it as well.  It is what Jimmy Carter said, "we having nothing to fear from the Muslim Brotherhood."  I do not think that Jimmy Carter is a stark raving lunatic either.  But one thing that the Muslim Brotherhood stated is that continuing the peace treaty with Israel, and having Hamas follow suit, will depend a great deal on Israel accepting the two-state solution, i.e., future status of the West Bank and Gaza.  Also, Shaul Mofaz is the new leader of the Kadima party, and I know virtually nothing about him.  But I hope that he will continue Kadima's policy of supporting a two-state solution.  So preserving the peace treaty is embedded in the new Egyptian government, hopefully it can twist the arm of Hamas.  Hopefully, Mofaz will show a commitment to a two-state solution.  Peaces are following into place, and what we are to do is watch, participate, and hope.  The Likud and Republican parties can run an economy, Hamas definitely cannot.  The Muslim Brotherhood may have advocated the destruction of the Jewish state, but now it has accept reality and realizes that the Jewish state is going no where.  So the Jewish state has to accept that their Arab neighbors are going no where.  This is what I am advocating, that neither side is going no where, so the only alternative is that they are going to have to accept each other.  So is that belief a case of shear lunacy?  As an individual, do you accept your Arab neighbors?

First of all, Jimmy Carter, total loon.... No question he is living in the same reality as you a Peres.   Israel has offered a state to the Arabs many many times... Every Prime minister since Peres has agreed.  It is teh Arabs who keep rejecting offers, it is the Arabs who still do not accept a Jewish state... Why do you keep talking about Hamas,Likud and Republicans in teh same breath, it is embarrassing... Seriously you are comparing a terrorist orginization thats reponsible for teh death of thousands to two democratic elected parties in a demorocy...


The Muslim brotherhood accepts nothing!

Mohamed Al-Saed Idris, Chairman of the Arab Affairs Committee in the Parliament, presented the committee’s official outline of Egypt’s regional policy- here are a few points:

  • An official definition of Israel as an enemy – “Post-revolutionary Egypt will never be a friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity, which we see as the foremost enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation. Egypt will treat this entity as an enemy, and the Egyptian government should reconsider its entire relationship and agreements with this enemy and the threat it poses to the security and national interests of Egypt.”
  • Severance of diplomatic relations with Israel – “The expulsion of the Israeli ambassador from Egypt, returning the Egyptian ambassador from Tel Aviv, cessation of the export of Egyptian gas to that entity, freezing of activities under the QIZ agreement [the Qualified Industrial Zones trade agreement] whose terms violate the sovereignty and national interests of Egypt.”
  • Full support for the armed struggle against Israel – “Providing all means of support to the Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank, in order to allow this nation to stand firm against Israel’s policy of aggression. Adopting resistance in all its forms and manifestations, and referring to this path as the strategic path to the liberation of occupied land, after the leaders of the Zionist entity stressed that the so-called peace process is nothing but a track of lies and red tape in order to gain time to Judaize and annex all of what that entity wants to Judaize and annex in the land of Palestine.”
  • Re-adoption of the total boycott of Israel – “A return to the total Arab boycott policy that includes the Zionist entity and the international companies that maintain ties with it, and referring to the boycott as a factor which supports the struggle.”




He read that speech in front of Parliament, but it was never adopted by as official government policy.  It was like in the United States, when Senator Jesse Helms tried to keep Martin Luther King Jr's birthday from becoming an official holiday, because he read in front of Congress that King was a communist.  It is like what Yasir Arafat said "extremism exists on both sides."  The New York Times published on March 24, 2012 as statement by Reda Fahmy, a Brotherhood leader who overseas its Palestinian relations and is now chairman of the Arab affairs committee in Egypt's upper house of Parliament.  He said "After decades of denunciation and enmity -- Brotherhood text still sometimes refer to the Jewish state as the "Zionist entity" -- Brotherhood leaders have said that as members of the governing party they will honor Egypt's 1979 peace accord with Israel.  Some of its leaders say they believe that such coexistence can become a model for Hamas as well, if Israel moves toward accepting a fully independent Palestinian state."  I think what the problem is, that some people are still hearing "Kill the Jews, kill the Jews" ringing in their heads.  These are the ones who think people like Jimmy Carter, Shimon Peres, and myself are nothing but looney.  Israel did offer the Palestinians their own state in 2000 at the Camp David Meeting, but it collapsed because of the split between Al Fatah and Hamas.  When I mention Likud, Republicans, and Hamas in the same breathe, I said "that Likud and Republicans can run an economy, and Hamas definitely cannot."  Hopefully, Hamas can re-invent itself the same way the Palestine Liberation Organization did.  Because their doctrine still is clownish.

I have been in the homes of Muslims while the were performing "yasin," or prayer fives times a day to Mecca.  They did not throw me out, nor tell me to go into another room or look the other way while they were doing it.  I have been invited to Feast of Eid celebration after Ramadan.  It was not that different than being invited to celebrate Shabbat with somebody, or celebrating Rosh Hashanah with a group of people.  Islam, Judaism, or Christianity does not shut itself off to non-believers, they will be quite open in sharing with you.  It is your personal decision, whether you want to convert to that faith.  But learning about other faiths, makes you understand people better.  I am not sure about the situation in Nigeria, but in Egypt one of the things that started the upheaval there was that the Copts do not recognize divorce.  Three Coptic women converted to Islam so they could get a divorce.  The only thing a Muslim woman has to do is say "I divorce thee" three times to a mullah, and the marriage is terminated.  When Mubarak was President, he made January 7th -- Eastern Orthodox Christmas -- into a national holiday in Egypt.  I am sure the Muslim majority was glad, because it was a paid day off for them.  The current government in Afghanistan, says they want to rebuild the stone Buddhas, destroyed by the Taliban.  It is not that Palestinians are killing because they were taught Muslim hatred.  It is more for political reasons, and that is what it boils down to trying to eliminate those political reasons.  Remember what the Siddur says "You will love your fellow man, as though you will love yourself."  You can interpret your fellow man, as your fellow Jews, but I interpret it as all of humanity.  Reality is based on having Israel and the Palestinians coexisting.  If it is going back to claiming Judea and Samaria, then think about the present-day Republic of Armenia is just a sliver of historic Armenia, for the rest is in present-day Turkey.  Do Armenia and most Muslim Turkey want to go to war over that?  Ben-Gurion said during World War II, that he would accept a Jewish homeland the size of a table cloth.  What it turns into is that both the Jews and the Palestinians are going to have to accept a homeland the size of a table cloth.  For this is going back to the original proposal in 1947, the partition of Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.  Terrorism for the sake of independence is minimal now, because the entire African and Asian continents are free of colonial rule.  But think about Sri Lanka, it is independent from Great Britain, but there is terrorism there because the Tamils want there own homeland.  So what do you propose for Sri Lanka?  But sorry, those evil Muslims are just not going away, so why not learn how to live with them.  Because if you do, you will feel much better.

You make more logical errors, Tim.  To begin with, you cannot just freely speak of Muslim cultures and interpretations of religion as one whole piece anymore than you can speak of "The Christian Way" or Judaism as if all competing factions everywhere agree on major principles.  Because you have done so in the preceding passage indicates, to me, that your understanding is not only very limited but that you make the logical error of explaining the whole by understanding the part (the part, incidentally, with which you are familiar).  I have also written elsewhere of your logical fallacies as has Jeff Stern.

As to Israel giving up land for peace, they have tried that, most recently in Gaza, and it didn't work, not by a long shot.  It may not have worked in the Sinai either as Egypt appears to be becoming a much more fundamentalist state than under Mubarak run by the Muslim brotherhood and Salafists.  Israel has learned the hard way that the surrounding Muslim people wish to tear the small Jewish state apart, either through massive war or slice by slice.  So your rather prim solution, that Israel voluntarily give up land for some illusive peace, is a very leftist comment not shared, at the present time, by a majority of the Israeli voting public.  And personally, I don't blame them.

Not to be too hard on you but, when you speak of the Coptic Christians of Egypt, 200,000 of them fled their homes in 2011 as a result of beatings and massacres during the so-called "Arab Spring".  In 1912, incidentally, Christians made up 20% of the population of the whole Mideast; in 2011, 5%.  Just to be rigorous here, I would cite as a reference Israeli ambassador to the UN, Michael Ordman from an article in Ynet written by Rachel Hirshfeld, 03/11/2012.  If you have better or more reliable estimates re the decline of the Christian populations in the Mideast, kindly enlighten us.

When it comes to explaining religions, because of all of their extend, you can only give a synopsis.  You can have volumes and volumes to explain each one's laws and ethics.  It is not asked that Israel give up territory blindly, but to use it as an exchange mechanism.  It came close with the Camp David Accord under President Clinton in 2000.  But that collapsed, and since then there has been no effort to analyze why it collapsed and how it can be resurrected.  As for voters in Israel, they voted out the Labor Party which was a part of the talks, because there was not results from that meeting.  As for Egypt, one cannot be so quick in saying that a government change is going to automatically bring a fundamentalist regime, that is bent on the destruction of Israel.  Things have been mentioned in the Parliament, just like they have been mentioned in the U.S. Congress.  But it is seeing whether these things mentioned are actually translated into official government policy.  Egypt cannot go back to the massive militarization that it did in the Nasser Era.  Because there is no donor for such a cause.  At that time, the Soviet Union filled that role.  Now it is the United States, and the aid that they provide does not go into massive military capabilities.  Egypt is the largest importer of wheat, and that wheat is purchased by American aid.  When there was talk that Egypt was going to abort the 1979 peace accord with Israel, there was a call in the United States to halt that aid.  Now the Muslim Brotherhood is saying that they will abide by it, and it calling upon Hamas to use it as a role model for coexistence.  So it has to be careful in claiming the government changes in Egypt will automatically go back to the days when it was the archenemy of Israel.  The Christian denominations in the Middle East have a longer history of expatriates living abroad, then the Muslim population.  In the United States, Maronite Christians and Assyrian Orthodox have roots in the country that go back to the 1890s.  Also, there presence in Europe goes back to that far.  This has led to their decline in their home countries.  A Pew Forum study shows that 45% of the Muslim living in the United States are first generation Americans, or foreign born.  So Muslims are a more recent arrival into both the United State and Europe.  One can say that the flight of Christians from the Middle East is due to persecution, such as the massacre of Maronite Christians by Druzes in the 1840s.  But the decline of Maronite Christians are largely been due to immigration.  Lebanese restaurants are very popular in the United States, and almost all are ran by Maronite Christians.  So persecution has played role, but not exclusively.  So I do not think that anything I have stated is illogical.

It generally is not very helpful in a serious discussion to insert ones own opinions that run contrary to facts amassed. Here are some facts that must be answered with clarity. Why would the Muslim world not allow women to drive and why is there a need to penalize women for adultery even if they are raped and why is honor killing still allowed. Are Christians and Jews allowed to openly display a cross or star in any Muslim country? Why is there still a death penalty for anyone converting out of Islam? Why are Jews being called sons of apes and monkeys in weekly sermons? Why are people other than Muslims called infidels and subject to dhimmi status ?

Are you aware that a woman may divorce her husband but may not take or ever see her children? Are you also aware of  the female mutilation (with no benefits proven)?

I am curious that you know some very nice Muslims (as do I) but you have not had any positive results in regards to stopping terror anywhere in the world, not even the latest atrocity in Toulouse.

You are however wrong in sanitizing the fact that most Moronites and Copts have fled as a result of violent persecution and not voluntary emigration. Yes this is the exclusive reason for leaving ones homeland.

As a final observation ,I would like to ask you why is there growth of the various religions such as Baha'i, Christians and others in Israel but a decline in ALL Arab countries in the Middle East and in fact in some no other religion exists or is tolerated.

Again we must be honest rather than politically correct in our analysis and that is the only way we will come to a conclusion.

As for the settlements-Please tell me of even one that has been built as a result of land confiscation either in Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem.

I await you replies.

When you look at a woman not having the right to drive a motor vehicle, that pertains to Saudi Arabia, where that law is currently being challenged.  When I was in Pakistan -- which has a halal on its flag, so you cannot get more Muslim than that -- I saw women drive all the time.  So it obviously is not the law there.  This goes back to the fact that the Muslim World or Dar Al-Islam, is not a monolithic entity, as much as outsiders think it is.  I have not heard about women being penalize for adultery, even if raped.  I have definitely heard about honor killings in Iraq, but it would be interesting to find out where else they occur.  As for Christians and Jews not being allowed to wear either a Cross or Magen David, I have definitely seen them both in Morocco and Tunisia wearing them. that is how I identified them.  As for being official executed for converting, in Pakistan when a murder of such an individual occurred, it was not because they are sentence to death by a government official, it was due to the fact that they are killed by a renegade individual.  As for Jews being called derogatory terms, that is in the Hamas Doctrine, and it is hoped that doctrine can be supersede by the emergence of Al Fatah in Gaza.  In the Quran, Sura 29:46 it states "We Muslims believe in the Revelation which has come down to you, Jews and Christians: our Allah and your Allah in One."  So that does not sound to me as a doctrine of hatred, so I question was the Hamas Doctrine based on Islamic teaching or just hatred for Israel?  As for female mutilation, that by all means pre-dates Islam, because I know people who trying to put that to an end, and that is what they all stated to me.  As for what happened in Toulouse, France, that has pointed more to an individual's actions, than to an organized conspiracy.  You have to realized that persecution is one of the reasons why Maronite and Coptic Christians have left there homelands, but it is not the sole reason.  The Baha'is are well established in Haifa, because they have definitely been persecuted in Iran, but there has been no major exodus of Zoroastrians from Iran.  The last time they fled Persia in large numbers was in the 9th century C.E., when they fled to Mumbai, because they were welcomed by the Maharaji of Gujarat, and there is no Zoroastrian presence within Israel.  It is never been fully determined that the settlements are built on confiscated land, but the argument about their existence, is that they are an obstacle to the concept of a two-state solution.  For there to be a two-state solution, then that means going back to the original proposal of 1947, which was to partition Palestine into an Arab state and a Jewish state.  If it is argue that we do not need an independent Palestine, than can Israel always be able to control a restive population.  Because my goal is not to minimize Israel's existence, but to make it be able to live with its neighbors.  Also, with 1.6 billion Muslims in this world, it is not that all of them are saying Jews are the sons of apes and monkeys.  There are a lot of them that are saying they are our fellow human beings, so in return cannot we say the same thing about them?

Here's the point, Tim:  It takes only a small percentage of any group, especially in this day and age of advanced technology, to set the world on fire.  In this case, I am speaking of Muslim extremists.  These fundamentalists also have the tacit backing of a much larger number of non-violent Muslims who will hide the more extreme, support them and and sympathize with.  On top of that, Muslims in Muslim dominated countries and even those in non-Muslim countries who do not go along with the violence-prone are either shunned or threatened and, being fearful, choose, for safety's sake not to offend.  I think this is fairly apparent   

Because of the threat of extremism, that is the reason why President Obama had that national conference in Washington, D.C. last year, on the responsible disposal of nuclear waste.  Because there was a great fear, that Al-Qaeda would great a hold of it, and with the help of Pakistani nuclear scientists, would develop a nuclear bomb.  Those Pakistani nuclear scientists could have been supporters of Al-Qaeda, or just like getting the money from them.  Then there is the question about how much support did Al-Qaeda got from Pakistan's Secret Service?  When I have discussed this with Pakistani officials, their answer was to try to prevent archenemy India from getting an influence in Afghanistan.  So it is hard to say what fosters support for extremism, is it because they just like them?  Do they like the money, that can be associated with it?  Or are they trying to offset the influence of a rival?  Which goes back to the over all question, there are not blanket explanations.  I may had favorable relations with Muslims, but what I am, versus what they are never was a part of the scenario.  Just like when I set up that meeting between a Jewish girl and a Palestinian family.  There were not talking about what made them different from each other, they were talking about what color they like for decorating a home with.



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