Trading outposts for large settlement blocs


If Benjamin Netanyahu insists on keeping illegal settlement outposts, he will be defending lawlessness and harming Israel’s interests, writes Ha’aretz columnist Ari Shavit. And if Obama refuses to recognize that large settlement blocs near the Green Line will become part of Israel, he will be destroying President Clinton’s legacy.

But if Obama and Netanyahu formulate an outposts-for-blocs policy, they will be serving their countries’ interests, as well as promoting a realistic peace process.

He writes:

You cannot argue with facts. Nor can you argue with basic moral imperatives. Settlements that were lawfully built on public land are subject to ideological, political and security debate. Outposts that were illegally built on private land are robbery. The thousands of Israelis living unlawfully in the territories on lands that do not belong to them are lawbreakers. Israel must address their extensive, methodical law-breaking.

The outpost outrage also has a political aspect. The uncontrolled construction of mini-settlements in the last decade has fundamentally damaged national security. Instead of defining its just borders, Israel has entangled itself in a delusional and criminal settlement act. Consequently, even Israel’s greatest friends have lost their patience. The illegal outposts robbing the Palestinians’ lands are also robbing Israel of its legitimacy.

Barack Obama’s administration has brought these issues to the test. His demand to stop all construction in all the settlements is extreme. On one level, it is not compatible with previous American commitments. On another level, it is causing moderate Palestinians and Arabs to harden their lines and freeze the peace process. But the sweeping American demand shows that after years of Israeli conniving and scheming, Washington has simply had enough.

Thus, to avoid a head-on clash with its ally, Israel must change its ways immediately. It must prove it will no longer make a fool of the world and stop sabotaging itself and start enforcing law in the West Bank.

Full column here.

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