From an English newspaper: The Guardian.
What our detractors refer to as ‘settlements’ are no threat to peace. Others must recognise that we are part of the solution
Catherine Ashton, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs, is a vocal critic of the Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria. Referring to them as “settlements”, she claimed last week that they “threaten to make a two-state solution impossible” and called on Israel “to immediately end all settlement activities beyond the green line, including East Jerusalem”. Obviously, Ashton has never visited a “settlement”, like almost all of her colleagues in the international diplomatic high echelons. Nevertheless they consider themselves experts on the matter.
One notable exception is the former US president Jimmy Carter, who visited Gush Etzion in 2009. Carter is well known for his harsh criticism of Israel, considered by many as sheer hostility towards the Jewish state. So shocked was he by the reality on the ground, he stated: “This particular settlement is not one that I envision ever being abandoned, or changed over into a Palestinian territory.” The contrast between Carter’s statement and Ashton’s reminded me of a recent statement by Israel’s finance minister, Yair Lapid: “I used to have so many opinions before I learned the facts.”
In 2009 I was invited to meet Tony Blair, the special envoy of the quartet (the UN, US, Russia and the EU) for the Middle East. At the end of our conversation I invited him to visit the communities whose future we had just discussed. He declined, saying: “I can see them from my helicopter.” “From the helicopter,” I replied, “you can’t see the faces, look into the eyes and understand their aspirations.” Blair, like many of his peers, continues to fly over our heads.
More than 360,000 Israelis live in almost 200 communities across Judea and Samaria, with 200,000 more in East Jerusalem. That’s more than half a million people. Our endeavour stands on solid moral ground.
This week marks 46 years since the agonising days of June 1967, when the Arab world physically tried to annihilate Israel. We defeated them and liberated the strategic hills that overlook 70% of Israel’s population. If partition of this contested land was ever the just solution to the conflict, it ceased the moment one side refused. It was not a mere rejection: they launched repeated assaults to take it all by force. Returning Israel to its indefensible nine-mile waistline would once again place us in mortal danger, while rewarding the aggressor.
And now for the readers’s responses:
FOLLOW UP LETTERS
Israel and facts on the moral ground
The Guardian, Monday 10 June 2013 16.00 EDT
• Dani Dayan’s article turns logic on its head and is an example of the old technique of hoping that if you say something often enough, in this case “solid moral ground” (five times) it will be believed. The settlements are a blatant – and under international law illegal – occupation of land belonging to someone else. Apparently, according to Dayan, the fact that over half a million live there makes them legal. Apparently looking into the eyes and faces of settlers would make the settlements legal.
Apparently the right of Jews to live in certain places is inalienable because they are cradles of Jewish civilisation. On this argument there would have to be hundreds of population exchanges throughout the world – many of claimants who occupied lands far more recently than Jews occupied Palestine.
My own view is nuanced. (The view of LatinArabia)
I do NOT see the settlements as a violation of International Law; but I do see new settlements as a violation of the OSLO ACCORDS – which I think Israel should never have agreed to. In fact, I think Israel should ditch OSLO.
The OSLO ACCORDS prohibit unilateral actions. New Settlements are unilateral actions.
I do not mind if Israel builds new settlements; but Israel should stop the pretense of abiding by Oslo, when in fact it also violates Oslo – the Arabs violate OSLO all the time.
So OSLO should be ditched.
That being said: I think Israel should:
1) Pay young, landless Arabs to leave
2) Slowly enfranchise the remainder over time
3) Annex Judea and Samaria
In the end, the International Law argument used by Israel’s critics is flawed.
That does not mean that everything Dani Dayan asserts is right; but it means the International Law argument used by Israel’s critics is flawed.
Dayan is trying to justify the settlements to a hostile world. He should forget about that.
I cannot tell a Jew he does not have a right to settle the land. I can tell a Jew that he shouldn’t abuse the Arabs on the land – and sadly, some Jews do abuse the Arabs.
However, let’s be honest. The Arabs are often worse.
Settlements are not contrary to International Law, but they are contrary to OLSO. Since neither side obeys OSLO, OSLO should be declared dead.