A week ago the Israeli government buckled under US pressure and declared a 10-month freeze on construction in the West Bank, in the hope this will revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Almost nobody here believes that this “confidence building” step will amount to much, but the West Bank settlers have nevertheless come out in full force against the implementation of the government decision. Several of them clashed with police yesterday, and their leaders have announced they will continue to oppose the decision. I heard an interview on the radio yesterday with a woman settler that was almost in tears describing the effects of this ban and how her children have no school to go to because one cannot be constructed, or how newly-wed couples have nowhere to live.
I think that giving in to US pressure at this point was wrong, as there is clearly nobody on the other side with which serious peace discussions can take place. Currently, the Palestinians carry a heavier burden of proof than the Israelis about their intention to reach an agreement. I’m not surprised about the decision though; Netanyahu has proven, time and again, that he succumbs to pressure alarmingly quickly, with little or no thought about his “ideology” or the consequences.
But despite being against this decision, I admit to feeling some satisfaction watching the settlers squirm and cry foul. Their very presence is rooted in decades-long illegality. It was one of the factors that prevented the possibility of an agreement with the Palestinians when one was within reach. Worst of all, it is the single biggest threat to Israel’s long-term existence as Jewish country, by forcing a single state reality with an Arab majority. I am no fan of the Palestinians and the manner in which they are conducting their so-called “struggle for independence”, but I know Israel needs them to have their own state if it wants to survive. The settlements are a clear obstacle to this strategic goal.
As for the tears of the woman on the radio: they are nothing but crocodile tears. After 42 years of holding the vast majority of Israelis hostage to their delusional ideology, it is time for the settlers to face reality and come back home to Israel. Or, better yet, remain where they are and become citizens of a Jewish minority in the future Palestine.