Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Settlements Not an Obstale to Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was in Washington meeting with President Obama this week, and he made some surprising concessions, in theory at least. Only time will tell if he will make good on his promises.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are of two types: state-sponsored and illegal. The "legal" settlements are built by the Israeli government, are protected by the Israeli military, and are usually much larger than the second type. Illegal settlements are those that are built in areas not approved for settlement by the government. These settlements are sometimes home to only one family, or several families.

Of the 26 illegal outposts on record, Israel will dismantle "a number of" them. No mention of dismantling any of the "legal" settlements. But no matter. According to Netanyahu, those are not really an issue.

From Haaretz:
The document, which Netanyahu issued for distribution only after meeting Obama, says Israel is ready to evacuate the illegal outposts. As for stopping construction in the settlements the document was more cagey, saying the settlements were not an obstacle to peace and that the evacuation of settlements in Gaza only led to the establishment of a Hamas terror base in the Gaza Strip.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also added, "the new Israeli government would take action against the outposts, not because it was told to do so by the United States, but because Israel 'is a state of law."

It is widely understood that these statements were the price Netanyahu paid for Obama's support regarding Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is taking a tougher stance on even the officially recognized West Bank settlements.
WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton took a hard line against settlement construction in the territories Wednesday, including a call to freeze building for natural growth. Her statement came in contrast to the general terms U.S. President Barack Obama expressed about the issue to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier in the week.
"Natural growth" refers to home additions designed to better accommodate a growing family. For example, adding a room onto the house when you've had a new baby. Or adding another small home to the property when one of your children marries. This type of natural growth is common in Arab families, as one piece of land is often lived on by many generations of a growing extended family. Unfortunately in many cases, this natural growth is deterred by the denial of building permits. In East Jerusalem, Arab homes are sometimes demolished because a proper permit was not obtained.

1 comment:

News Service said...

There are numerous errors here.

There are over 100 illegal outposts on record. Read the Sasson report. About 26 of them are those Israel, at some point, agreed to remove. All settlements and settlers - all Israeli citizens - are protected in some way by the IDF.

Natural growth in Arab families was never deterred by building permits or anything else. There are thousands of homes in Jerusalem built without any building permits often on land that belongs to the Jewish Agency.

Please be careful to check facts when writing about the Middle East. There is enough disinformation around.

Ami Isseroff