Construction freeze in Judea and Samaria based on erroneous assumptions
By Yoram Ettinger
1. A freeze will not soften – but will intensify – President Obama’s criticism of “settlements” in particular and Israeli policy in general. For instance, Prime Minister Netanyahu’s June 14, 2009 Two-State-Solution-speech triggered exacerbated pressure by Obama. Moreover, Netanyahu’s willingness to exchange hundreds of Palestinian terrorists for Gilad Shalit was followed by US pressure to release more terrorists.
2. A freeze will not moderate – but will whet the appetite of – the PLO (Abbas) or Hamas (Haniyeh); it will radicalize their demands and fuel their terrorism. Former Prime Minister Barak’s sweeping concessions, offered to Arafat and Abbas in October 2000, were greeted by the PLO-engineered Second Intifada. Furthermore, Prime Minister Olmert’s unprecedented offer of concessions (including the return of some 1948 refugees) was rebuffed by Abbas.
3. A freeze re-entrenches the misperception of Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria as an obstacle to peace. It diverts attention and resources from the crucial threat to peace: Abbas-engineered hate education – the manufacturing line of terrorists – and Arab rejection of the existence – and not just the size – of the Jewish state.
4. A freeze and the adherence to presidential dictate will not transform the White House position on Iran-related matters. Besides, a freeze and the adherence to presidential dictate do not constitute a prerequisite to maintaining constructive strategic relations with the US (e.g. supply of critical military systems and crucial strategic cooperation). In fact, a freeze and a serial submission to presidential pressure – just like any other form of retreat – erode Israel’s strategic posture in Washington and in the Middle East. Such an attitude ignores the role and power of Congress – especially when it comes to the Jewish state – at the dire expense of Israel’s national security.
Is Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria an/the obstacle to peace?
1. In September 2005, Israel uprooted 25 Jewish communities from Gaza and Samaria. Gaza became Judenrein. It paved the road to the meteoric rise of Hamas, and induced more smuggling, manufacturing and launching of missiles at Jewish communities in Southern Israel.
2. President Obama defines Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria as a root cause of Arab hostility toward Israel. However, Jewish communities were established in Judea and Samaria after the wars of 1967, 1956 and 1948, after the 1949-1967 campaign of Arab terrorism, after the 1964 establishment of the PLO, after the 1929 slaughter of the Hebron Jewish community and the 1929 expulsion of the Gaza Jewish community, after the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s slaughter of the Jewish community of Gush Etzion, etc.
3. President Obama considers the 300,000 Jews (17%), who reside among Judea and Samaria’s 1.5 million Arabs, an obstacle to peace. Why would he, then, view the 1.4 million Arabs (20%), who reside among pre-1967 Israel’s 6 million Jews, as an example of peaceful coexistence?!
4. Obama urges the uprooting of Jewish communities from Judea and Samaria, in order to supposedly advance peace and human rights. Would he, therefore, urge the uprooting of Arab communities from pre-1967 Israel?!
5. Since Obama tolerates Arab opposition to Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria would he tolerate Jewish opposition to Arab presence in pre-1967 Israel?! While any attempt by Jews to reside in Palestinian Authority-controlled areas would trigger a lynching attempt, Arabs have peacefully resided within pre-1967 Israel. Doesn’t such a reality highlight the nature of Arab intentions and the real obstacle to peace?!
6. Obama pressures Israel to freeze Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, in order to avoid unilateral creation of facts on the ground. Shouldn’t Obama demand a similar freeze of Arab construction in Judea and Samaria, which is 30 times larger than Jewish construction?! Doesn’t the absence of a balanced approach, by Obama, prejudge of the outcome of negotiation?!
7. The 1950-67 Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan. The most recent internationally-recognized sovereign over Judea and Samaria was the League of Nations-authorized 1922 British Mandate, which defined Judea and Samaria as part of the Jewish National Home, the cradle of Jewish history. Article 6 of the Mandate indicates the right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria. Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, former President of the International Court of Justice, determined that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria was rooted in self-defense and therefore did not constitute “occupation.” Eugene Rostow, former Dean of Yale Law School and former Undersecretary of State and co-author of UN Security Council Resolution 242, asserted that 242 entitled Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria. The Oslo Accord and its derivatives do not prohibit “settlements.” Moreover, Israel has constrained construction to state-owned – and not private – land, avoiding expulsion of Arabs landowners.
Freeze of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria is not a peace-enhancer; it is an appeasement-enhancer