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Israeli Settlements. Top Six Excuses

By , contributor
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The current government of Israel is digging deep to find excuses for opposing a freeze on settlements. Of course they do so in order to advance their drive to control all of the land of the West Bank , which many of them view as their biblical birthright of Judea and Samaria , as well as all of a hugely expanded Jerusalem . 

This view has within it no room to consider the rights of Palestinians or the contribution that the freeze might make to further a peaceful future for both peoples. President Obama has demanded a freeze because he understands that there can be no meaningful negotiations, while one side continues to strengthen its hold on the very land in contention. Without a freeze, right-wing Israelis would be encouraged to draw out negotiations, while pursuing their own expansionist objectives.

It remains to be seen just how firm Obama will be on the freeze. So far, he has even managed to convince Jewish and pro-Israeli members of Congress that the freeze is not only good for the long term interest of Israel , but vital to United States interests and security in the Middle East and the Muslim world. However, the right wing in Israel is advancing every argument that they can in order to subvert the freeze. I offer my own top six excuses in the form of an imaginary Netanyahu – Obama dialogue.

Number One:

Bibi: A freeze would undermine “natural growth” or “normal life” in the settlements. My friend, Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer argues that a freeze “means strangling to death the thriving towns close to the 1949 armistice line … It means no increase in population. Which means no babies.”

Obama: Is this is just an example of your best maudlin prose and crocodile tears or does it have meaning in real life? You and I both understand that the babies are born into existing homes, which if necessary, are expanded. We also know that there is no natural right held by our grown children to live in the same town as their parents. I grew up in Hawaii but did not choose to settle there. Your demand for “natural growth”, I notice, does not exclude immigration from within the ’67 borders of Israel or even from Brooklyn .

Number Two:

Bibi: At least you ought to allow us to build within the bounds of the major settlement blocs which almost all agree will be included in any peace settlement.

Obama: That sounds reasonable, on the face of it, until you look at the maps of the settlements which often encompass vast areas, at a considerable distance from already built up housing. In other words, the boundaries of the blocs will be a major subject for negotiation – not an Israeli preemption. No more building.

Number Three –

Bibi: Mr. President, you understand the fragile nature of coalition politics and you must understand that a real freeze would place my government in jeopardy.

Obama: I note that the Kadima party and Ms. Livni are not part of your coalition. If you run into trouble, try turning to them. (We hear Bibi choking)

Number Four --

Bibi: You are being rather tough and unreasonable but can’t you show a little flexibility by letting us continue to complete building already in progress?

Obama: Your defence minister offered us that, but with the proviso that new building would begin again after a six month duration. So, you expect me and the Palestinians to sit still while an estimated 2000 new housing units, some of them barely beyond the planning stage are completed. Then, in six months you can inform me that the so-called freeze is over. What do you take me for? My political roots you will recall are in Chicago .

Number Five –

Bibi: We had a ‘formal understanding’ with the Bush administration that despite the words of the roadmap, the United States would allow continued Israeli building within the “construction line” of existing settlements.

Obama: Do you have a treaty to show me or, at least, written understandings? I am not bound by any casual conversations between you and members of the previous administration. We have, Mr. Prime Minister, an expression in the United States, that comes out of the women’s movement, it is – “No means no.” What is it that you do not understand about that?

Number Six –

Bibi: It is difficult for the Jewish people, given our recent history, to accede to a policy which would mean that vast areas of Judea and Samaria would be judenrein, empty of Jews.

Obama: Yes, I understand you used that rather emotionally laden word in conversation with the German foreign minister. I believe that the Jewish people should be able to live anywhere in the world that they like but a group of Jews choosing to settle in Outer Mongolia does not expect to live there under Israeli sovereignty. Make no mistake, there will be two states for two peoples and Arabs who live in Israel must accept Israeli sovereignty and any Jews who choose to live in the lands of the new Palestinian state must similarly recognize Palestinian authority. Make no mistake, the expansion of settlements has ended.

Epilogue --

Bibi is said to have then asked the President how he might react if Israel continued its settlement construction. In his quiet, but forceful manner, Mr. Obama did not threaten to cut off arms shipments or financial aid to Israel , either of which might force a confrontation with his own congress. However, he casually noted that the United States was currently allowing tax exemptions for so-called charities, which were pouring money into the settlements. That might easily change he concluded.

* Israeli settlement bloc. Image:

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