Friday October 24, 2014
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24.10.2014
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Yoram Ettinger

Settlement freeze an obstacle to peace

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's speech at the U.N. on Sept. 23 and the Palestinian Authoritys education system reaffirm the fact that Jewish settlements within pre-1967 Israel and not in Judea and Samaria  are the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

In his U.N. speech, Abbas highlighted the 63-year-old occupation since 1948. This message is reinforced throughout the Palestinian school education system. He heralded the Palestinian Liberation Organization, which was established three years before the 1967 war and before the establishment of contemporary Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, as his supreme authority. Abbas denies that Jewish history has any roots between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.

Thus, the primary cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is not the Judea and Samaria settlements, but the existence of the Jewish state.

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Freezing Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria diverts attention away from the core cause of the conflict. Moreover, it constitutes an obstacle to peace by reflecting submission to pressure, thus fueling further pressure, radicalizing Arab demands, intensifying Arab terrorism and eroding Israels posture of deterrence, while the only peace that is possible is deterrence-driven peace.

The pre-1967 area of Israel was the focus of the systematic campaign of Arab terrorism during the 1920s, 1930s, 1940s and 1950s, as well as of the conventional Arab wars on Israel in 1948, 1956 and 1967.

Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered to give away all Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria in October 2000. Abbas and Arafat responded with an unprecedented wave of suicide bombings in pre-1967 Israeli towns, which are defined as settlements by Abbas school textbooks.

The September 2005 uprooting of 25 Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria and Gaza induced an unprecedented barrage of missiles hitting Jewish settlements in pre-1967 Israel.

If the 350,000 Jews who live among 1.6 million Arabs in Judea and Samaria constitute an obstacle to peace, are the 1.5 million Arabs living among six million Jews inside pre-1967 Israel an insurmountable obstacle to peace?

If Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria should be frozen, lest it prejudge the outcome of negotiations, then Arab construction in Judea and Samaria should be frozen as well, unless one wishes to prejudge the outcome of negotiations.

If the uprooting of Jewish communities advances peace, why would the uprooting of Arab communities undermine peace?

The uprooting of Arab communities would be immoral; so, too, would be the uprooting of Jewish communities.

No opposition to an Arab presence in pre-1967 Israel should be tolerated; so, too, should no opposition to a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria be tolerated.

Illegal Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria are razed by Israel; so too should the 1,100 illegal Arab homes built annually in Jerusalem and the thousands of illegal Arab homes in Judea and Samaria.

The 1950 to 1967 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 1922 British Mandate, which defined Judea and Samaria as part of the Jewish national homeland. Article 6 of that mandate acknowledges the right of Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria. Judge Stephen 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, former U.S. undersecretary of state and co-author of U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, asserted that this resolution entitled Jews to settle in Judea and Samaria. The Oslo Accords do not prohibit the construction of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria. Moreover, settlements are established on state-owned, and not private, land.

Peaceful coexistence and the determination to uproot Jewish or Arab communities constitute an oxymoron. The concepts of durable peace and "Judenrein areas" contradict each other. The litmus test of Palestinian-Arab intent is the acceptance or rejection of Jewish settlements' presence in Judea and Samaria.

Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are not the root cause of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. They are the roots of 4,000-year-old Jewish religious and national aspirations. They constitute the crux of Israels national security, and their land provides 40 percent of Israels water supply. The mountain ridges and water aquifers of Judea and Samaria are as vital to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as the Golan Heights are to northern Israel. After all, they protect and defend the sliver of pre-1967 Israel, which is between nine and fifteen miles wide and yet contains 80% of Israels transport, business, economic, health, education, scientific and irrigation infrastructure.

Freezing Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria will not enhance peace, it will enhance appeasement, thus undermining the cause of peace and advancing the cause of war.

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