Settling the settlements question


Moshe Arens, the Israeli defense minister-turned-hawkish Ha’aretz columnist, has a provocative article in which he:

  • Rejects the assertiont that Israeli settlements in Gaza and the West Bank violate international law
  • Insists that neither Israel or the United States are bound by Bush-Sharon understanding on settlements
  • Argues that settlements considered legal under Israeli law should remain
  • Calls on the Israeli government to remove settlements that contravene Israeli law

In conclusion, he writes:

A relatively large number of settlements and outposts in Judea and Samaria, some in existence for many years, lack a legal basis for their presence there. The forcible removal of so many illegal settlements now represents a serious, if not insurmountable, problem. This is a common problem whenever the authorities have been negligent in their enforcement of the law over many years. It is equally true for many illegal buildings put up over the years by the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria, as well as for illegal building activity in Israel itself, especially in the Negev.

Under these circumstances, a reasonable government policy would be first to prevent the establishment of any new settlements or outposts that are in contravention of the law, while preparing a list of the illegal settlements in order of the date on which they were established, and dealing with the latest violators first.

Those young people who have established settlements and outposts illegally in Judea and Samaria, and who warn that they will resist the removal of any of those settlements, may be under the illusion that they are performing a great service for the Zionist cause. Actually they are causing it great harm, by creating the impression in the public mind that all settlements in Judea and Samaria have been established illegally.

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