Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements
by MainStreet, Fri Jun 05, 2009 at 07:58:44 AM EDT
....by a substantial majority. So what?
In a recent poll conducted by pollsters at Tel Aviv University on June 1, it was found that the majority of Israelis are prepared to dismantle most of the settlements, those that lie outside the large blocks along the green line. Almost two-thirds "consider the settlements a liability rather than an asset."
This proposal to "dismantle" settlements goes far beyond the present US demand that Israel just freeze settlement expansion including plans made under the euphemistic notion of "natural growth," which, if approved, could conceivably double the population of settlers in the West Bank.
So what are they (Israeli public) doing about it?, asks the Australian peace activist, Antony Loewenstein.
Quoting an article from the Financial Times, Loewenstein says the reality "provides a necessary cold shower to those who think President Barack Obama's talk about Middle East peace is realistic in the short-term. The Palestinians....have little hope of winning a reprieve from the settlements in the near future."
The farming village of Jeet in the northern West Bank is flanked by the settlement of Keddumim (above map) and an outpost called Havat Gilad on three sides. Zakaria Sedda, a local activist, says the outpost is built on private Palestinian land from Jeet and four other villages - a claim denied by the settlers. What is more, Havat Gilad has become a "factory for attacks" on the villagers.
"They steal our olives, they cut down the olive trees and they beat and attack the farmers in the area," says Mr Sedda.
Keddumim, a leafy West Bank settlement of 5,000 inhabitants with big houses and well-tended gardens, is a world away from the -rubble of Maoz Esther. Yet the sentiments expressed by Daniella Weiss, a leader of the radical settlement movement and a grandmother of 14 children, are much the same. She is deeply disappointed with Mr Netanyahu, whose right wing government, she says, has betrayed the hopes the settler movement placed in it. What if he moves decisively against the settlers? "It will be blocked. And I want to tell you, I think Netanyahu might fall. He will not be able to finish the job."
Given that Netanyahu is now dependent on the settler movement for his political base, there seems little chance of a head-on clash between the settlers and him. He would fall. But the demands of the US and the Palestinians are not aimed at dismantling existing settlements such as Keddumim but, right now, only at removing outposts and freezing settlement growth. As Obama is finding out, progress on even those two issues may be hard to come by.
For reference sake, Keddumim is located miles from the green line in the northern West Bank and was founded during Hanukkah 1975 by members of the Gush Emunim settlement movement. It is a full-fledged city having day care centers, kindergartens, elementary schools, a yeshiva, high schools, a local music academy, and a public library. Although many residents are employed outside the city, it contains several agricultural enterprise working with greenhouses and orchards, an industrial park, and local construction companies involved in the building and expansion of West Bank settlements.
Freezing settlement expansion is therefore nothing; dismantling settlements, cities like Keddumim, is everything and the real impediment to peace, if it can ever be accomplished.