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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Settlements- what's the deal?

Israeli settler runs over a three-year-old Palestinian girl 5/2/09

This caught my eye on the (less traveled) headlines recently. Maybe because I have a 3 year old. Maybe because settlers under international law, UN resolutions, and previous agreements (not to mention US “pressure”) aren’t supposed to be there in the first place, let alone injuring, harassing, and vandalizing their new neighbors.

They aren’t supposed to be there in the first place, they aren’t exactly there with the intention of living peacefully with their neighbors, and yet we still pour money and praise into this entity. And we wonder about the source of Arab anger toward us and our policies?

Here are some other accounts:

March/April 2009 settler violence summary

Stonings and vandalism are becoming routine, beatings

Random shootings and beatings

A list

Blog mentioning settler violence and hitting the nail on the head→ settlement enterprise=violence

Dec 2008 Hebron settler violence makes headlines

And now let's look at the recent talk about settlements and outposts and such. What is going on? I've got 3 articles to try and explain it.

"We will dismantle the illegal outposts," Barak said. "If it won't be through understanding, it will be done quickly and by force."

Sounds great, but don’t get too excited. We’ve got to understand what exactly he’s agreeing to do and still not agreeing to do. Once you do that, it’s not nearly the inspiring statement that it seems, but rather the opposite. He’s agreeing to dismantle little pre-settlements without proper permits. He’s not recognizing the Palestinian right to exist or govern themselves or return to their homeland (as Jews have the right to do), not recognizing a two state solution, not agreeing to dismantle ALL settlements (since ALL are illegal).

And let's also address the settlement freeze Obama is actually talking about. While this is encouraging, since Bush would never dare say anything of this nature, it also needs explanation. A settlement freeze is only a good sign if the intent is to force Israel to comply with international law and get rid of ALL settlements in East Jerusalem, Gaza and West Bank. But if the settlement freeze is seen as an end rather than a step toward compliance, then this is nothing more than American acceptance of a large scale Israeli land grab (click for illustration). Speaking of land grabs, the Wall should be addressed as well... I've always said - if you want a wall, build it on your own land. That goes for the US and Israel.

This dismantling of outposts even Israel considers illegal, as they don’t have a proper permit or whatever, is presented as a price, compromise, gesture of peace, painful concession, or some grand gift to the US and Palestinians (as if this is going to make a bit of difference for their national interest given the number and scope of the settlements Israel doesn’t consider illegal!). It is in fact far from a gesture of peace; it is absurd. ALL settlements are ILLEGAL and need to be razed to the ground.

I like how Netanyahu and Barak make clear that the outpost dismantling is not in response to US pressure, it is what “states of law” do. Yet it is considered part of the “price” Netanyahu paid to get Obama to make more concrete statements about Iran and nukes. Sounds like pressure to me, but what do I know?

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Tearing down Maoz Esther, a scattered collection of two concrete structures and several cabins fashioned from metal shipping containers, is "just a public relations stunt," he said.

And here’s someone telling it like it is. Moaz Esther is an outpost without Israeli authorization, as opposed to a settlement, which is still illegal under international law, but which Israel recognizes (and encourages settlement in) as its own “cities”. The problem is that they are built on Palestinian land complete with Jewish only roads and whose yards and pools are watered by depriving Palestinians of their share of the resource.,0,1538559.story?track=rss

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Netanyahu wants Arab states to begin to normalize relations and begin to cooperate on economic and agricultural projects…why?? He agreed to get rid of what Israel calls illegal outposts. Sounds good, right? Sounds like a concession, progress, a compromise. Wait a minute…didn’t he say (see the Haaretz article above) he was cashing in this outpost dismantling for tougher language on Iran? I guess this outpost thing is such a big gesture he figures he can get a little more mileage out of it than that. Has anyone else caught that two for one deal?

Anyway, that’s what Israel wants it to look like. A grand compromise on the scale of Barak’s “generous offer,” that in truth, wasn’t so generous after all. Illegal settlements, according to international and reasonable standards, are ALL settlements on the Occupied Territories, not just puny outposts consisting of a few trailers that aren’t recognized under Israeli law anyway. Bulldoze the outposts (no-brainer), but allow for “natural growth” in established, but still illegal, settlements? This outpost dismantling deal is more of a gain for Israel after all (if we give them "natural growth") - it essentially makes land grabs acceptable. And the US and Israel can still claim they are dismantling settlements (?!), it’s a win-win, right? Oops. Palestinians lose, though. I guess that doesn’t count. On top of this, Netanyahu doesn’t talk about two states, nor does he recognize the natural right of Palestinians to live and rule themselves. What a concession indeed!! This is no compromise, no breakthrough, no change. One could argue that it is an effort to appropriate more Palestinian land for themselves.

In the article, Senator Casey thinks we can meet in the middle on the settlement freeze. Ridiculous. Remove these pea shooter outposts, but allow for “natural growth” on the larger settlements which of course will be able to stand (against the law, btw)? And whose land, may I ask, will they expand upon? Hmmm. Sounds more like a land grab (albeit a well-disguised one to the uninitiated) than compromise.

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