Sunday, October 31, 2010

Settlements Are Not the Issue, Abbas!

I am glad that Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin is able to see the settlements argument for what it is: a red herring.  Last month, Mahmoud Abbas stated that Israel must choose between peace or the settlements, as if the settlements were the obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Let's start with the amount of land that the settlements take up: 1.7% of the West Bank.  The West Bank is 5,860 square kilometers, meaning that 1.7% of that is about 59 square miles.  That would make the amount of disputed land the size of Shelburne, Vermont, a small town of less than 7,000.

The second is that the Palestine Mandate is still in full effect since no sovereign state has ever legally replaced this former territory.  The international community never recognized Jordan's annexation of this territory, which thereby still makes the West Bank disputed territory.  As is stated in Article V of the Oslo Peace Treaty, until internationally recognized borders are established through peace treaties, there is nothing illegal about settlement development.

Aside from the legalities or the size of the settlements, as Mitchell Bard puts it, "The impediment to peace is not the existence of Jewish communities in the disputed territories, it is the Palestinians’ unwillingness to accept a state next to Israel instead of one replacing Israel."  The fact that 1.3 million Israeli Arabs live safely in Israel tells us that not only Jews can live alongside with Arabs, but that hatred is not innate.  The fact that the Palestinians teach their children from Day One how to hate Jews and that blowing them up is an idealization of Palestinian raison d'être is the real issue.  The moment we can accept that as the problem, rather than this dreck about settlements, the sooner we can figure out how to create education reform in that part of the world, thereby ushering peace between the two parties.

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