Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

....by a substantial majority. So what?

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The settlement (city) of Keddumim (blue, leftward) located near Nablus miles from the green line.

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."

For example,

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.

Tags: Israel, Netanyahu, obama, Palestine, settlements (all tags)

Comments

21 Comments

Re: Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

You sound more like a two state skeptic every day.

We have little idea how Israeli voters would respond to the new reality of Obama's position and engagement.  But I think it's clear that Obama is not averse to finding out.  He is not unaware that he has placed Bibi in an uncomfortable position.  Yossi Verter outlines Bibi's alternatives in yesterday's Haaretz:

Netanyahu has three options. None of them would be easy, but he did not run for office because it was an easy job.

First, he could announce his support for a two-state solution, evacuate the illegal outposts and freeze construction in isolated settlements. That would incur the wrath of hard-liners within Likud and might cause Habayit Hayehudi to resign from his coalition, but he would survive for now.

Second, he could go back to square one and form a new coalition with Kadima. But the political price he would pay in surrendering to the demands of Kadima chairwoman Tzipi Livni is intolerable to him.

Or, third, he could say no to Obama. And then we would all have to live with the fallout.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090 522.html

This begs the question of what "fallout" Obama is prepared to unleash.  How will he back up his speech?

If Bibi "digs in" and there is no palpable "fallout," then the pursuit of apartheid may continue despite the impossible position it will engender for both Israelis and Palestinians.

In that case, we're back to the same question we always end up with.  It's two states or apartheid, but if the latter, then what?

by Strummerson 2009-06-05 08:34AM | 0 recs
Re: Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

If the latter....

Nobody can predict the future. But Halper has offered one dismal outcome: a Palestinian revolt and their decimation by the Israeli military, and killings galore. That's when the American people including Jewish Americans, and possibly the government, will have had it, funding may be halted, and the boycott movement takes off.

by MainStreet 2009-06-05 09:14AM | 0 recs
As I said on the other thread

I think Bibi is stubbornly holding onto the image that Dick Cheney presented to them during the election, that Obama was a weak efite that would fold when confronted with a strong Isreal. That he was always a compromiser...

So, I am not surprised that Bibi is going to "Call Obama's Bluff" as it were.

I do think the next step is, Bibi et all have to determine just how much lobbying power they still have to try to bring Obama into backing off.

I think he is dead wrong, Obama loses NOTHING by standing strong, and if he were to back off, he would dead-end any reach out to the Muslim world.

I think Bibi et all are missing a point: That wasnt a stump speech Obama gave yesterday, and he is not a Bambi-like deer in the headlights that Cheney portrayed him to be.

What Bibi need to realize is, who stands to lose in a stand-off between he and Obama?

If he draws his line in the sand here, and all the lobbying power doesn't back off Obama, I think he has sunk his ship early in the battle.

My take is, we will see just how smart Bibi is.

If this is where he choose to make his stand, then I think Obama has played him perfectly, and he may have taken his best shoot too early and he is essentially seeded the upper hand to Obama.

But, I think, when you don't except that the winds have shifted and you still cling to a former political reality that no longer exists, you can make some really bad choices.

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-05 09:39AM | 0 recs
that was funny

that he'd bring up a shameful back room deal, make it public, and then expect Barack to honor it?  Really, what is Bibi smoking?  it's hardly a surprise, I assume Bush was glad about every aggression os Israel, as long as he had plausible deniability.  We all know there was some major insider dealing going on, outside of our democracy, in violation of separation of States (not like California and Arkansas, like Israel and the United States?).  That did give me a chuckle.  

Now Bibi is planning to hunker down, but Barack is speaking to the citizens on both sides, and he just may get listened to.  I realized his something for everybody thiang worked for me, when he hired Hillary as SoS.  It seems to work with others as well, a little respect, some recognition of intelligence and experience, so far it's working.

Also, Washington, don't you think he's taken the Bush perversion and kept the smart idea?  Bush did so many bad things the left could not keep up, it seemed crazy to be going after him on so many fronts, that we looked foolish. Barack is doing the same, with decent objectives and honor. The right can't keep up, they'd love just one issue to  pound their talking points to death over, but Barack gives them one an hour. Cool or what?  the thinking team in in office.  

by anna shane 2009-06-05 12:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

Just one more point that this diary did not emphasize, but remains important:

Before anyone can call for the removal of so-called illegal outposts and the expansion of existing "legal" settlements, the ethnic cleansing must stop, the harrassment of Palestinian farmers and families with the intent of wresting more and more of their lands, must stop.

by MainStreet 2009-06-05 09:01AM | 0 recs
Obama's or not, the boycotts continue..

From Jewish Voice for Peace about the Caterpillar boycott:

See if you can explain this... I can't.

In reference to Caterpillar's sales of bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes, orchards and olive groves, the company wrote a letter to the United Methodist Church last year. In the letter, CAT stated that it expects its customers to use its equipment in ways 'consistent with human rights and the requirements of international humanitarian law.' Good news, right?

And yet CAT's own Israeli dealership acknowledged this year that it has 'worked very closely' with the Israeli army during the attack on Gaza and has further announced an unprecedented agreement, which allows the Israeli army to draft Caterpillar civilian employees. You have to wonder how is CAT communicating its expectations to its own dealers, let alone the Israeli government.

We know how you communicate yours. In less than 48 hours, we have gathered 4,000 letters to CAT. Thanks! We will hand-deliver them to the CAT Board of Directors next Wednesday but we are not sure if we can cope with schlepping even more paper to that meeting.

So we are going to go a bit easier on trees from now on: If you did not get a chance to send an email to CAT, please sign this petition instead. We will collect your signatures on June 9 and deliver it to the Caterpillar Board as well!

Link to PETITION: http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/301 /petition.jsp?petition_KEY=1972


by MainStreet 2009-06-05 10:12AM | 0 recs
Signed

CAT is a pretty good company.  They shouldn't get their hands dirty with this.

by Dracomicron 2009-06-05 10:47AM | 0 recs
Settlements Easy to Dismantle

Israeli's have bulldozers and we know they know how to use them to knock over homes.

Fire up the bulldozers and get busy.

by RichardFlatts 2009-06-05 10:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements Easy to Dismantle

While, yes, Israel has bulldozed thousands of Palestinian homes, it is not possible or likely that they would be put to work taking down entire cities of 5,000 people. And that city shown in the map is one of the smaller cities in the West Bank. Those with over a 20,000 population are located near the green line, around Jerusalem, but extending far into the West Bank.

by MainStreet 2009-06-05 11:18AM | 0 recs
Not that easy

I remember seeing some 60 Minutes footage of  Israel settlers, and a knockdown incident. This was a while ago.

It was a virtual riot, almost an armed conflict between the Army and the settlers.

The next day, they had footage this fanatic women, I guess leader of the settlement, spewing the usual biblical justification for the settlers, saying they would all gladly die before giving up the West Bank, and they were happily in the background rebuilding the settlement literal yards away from where the Army had knocked it down.

It's not the buildings, it's the settlers, and I see almost NO ONE in Israeli's political machine willing to confront them.

by WashStateBlue 2009-06-05 11:41AM | 0 recs
Re: Not that easy

as long as there is no party that can win more than 50 percent of the vote, there will be the problem of catering to extremists. And there is the no-leadership problem that is rather amusing from a Jewish joke point of view, but serious enough when the stakes are high.

California has this democracy problem too, we're too democratic, which has nothing to do with parties.  The loudest and most strident voices, the ones that have the most business money backing get to put in initiatives with no overall consideration of the big picture.  

Actually California is quite  bit like Israel, we exploit Mexicans, who do the labor for the economy, and then give them unequal services. Hey, we even keep their deducted  tax dollars, and  deducted SS payments,   And the right wing blames them for everything too.  Weird?  California and Israel - twins separated at birth?  

by anna shane 2009-06-05 12:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Not that easy

It was a staged event for Bob Simon (60 Minutes)to show that the IDF demolished houses irrespective of whether one is Palestinian or Israeli. It was propaganda. The soldiers were shown pulling down some two by fours.

If you wish an appreciation of Palestinian house demolitions in the West Bank and East Jerusalem over the years, go to Jeff Halper's site, Israel Committee Against House Demolition. It was a core technique supporting the ethnic cleansing of Palestinian after 1967. And 18,000 plus is the total. B'Tselem has kept track of these incidents over the years.

by MainStreet 2009-06-05 12:26PM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements Easy to Dismantle

How much easier would it be to just issue the settlers Palestinian passports?

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-05 01:56PM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements Easy to Dismantle

Shaun, my comment below was intended as reply to this.

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-05 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

Makes a lot of sense, I think.  Abu Ala talks about it in a recent Haaretz interview:

Qureia: "[Former U.S. secretary of state] Condoleezza Rice told me she understood our position about Ariel but that Ma'aleh Adumim was a different matter. I told her, and Livni, that those residents of Ma'aleh Adumim or Ariel who would rather stay in their homes could live under Palestinian rule and law, just like the Israeli Arabs who live among you. They could hold Palestinian and Israeli nationalities. If they want it - welcome.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1088 237.html

And here's Akiva Eldar calling for something along these lines last summer:
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1014 952.html

But I still think the bulk of the evacuation work gets done by sheer political will.  Here's how M.J. Rosenberg puts it:

I think that simply the announcement by the government that they must leave would remove most.  The rest could be removed by the army.

Actually, all the army has to do is announce that beyond a certain date the settlers are on their own, and they would go.

Remember, how Kennedy integrated the University of Mississippi (and Eisenhower, Little Rock). They just sent in the military.

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/200 9/06/04/top_israeli_journalist_us_can_en d_israeli_occupati/index.php#comment-348 8565

And even before any of this gets started, the easiest first step is enacting time-limited financial incentives for moving within the Green Line -- basically, just like the tax and other perks that lured the many non-ideological "quality-of-life" settlers to the territories, only in reverse.  Haim Ramon was pushing a bill in this direction some years back but never got any traction:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/9370 59.html

Again, there's no shortage of practical ideas.  What's missing is the determination to finally get it done.

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-05 05:31PM | 0 recs
Re: Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

Yes, the political will which seems pretty thin on the ground at them moment.  We haven't even begun to discuss the exemption of existing settlements from a territorial settlement, which has always been an Israeli position.  I don't see it, frankly, and the Palestinian position excludes it at the moment, from Qureia's interview.  There will be a lot of gnashing of teeth over that.  Thanks for the links.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-05 05:44PM | 0 recs
Re: Israeli Public Less Supportive Of Settlements

And the source of that determination?  Barack Obama's leadership.

Gideon Levy puts it clearly:

The American president has the power to end the Israeli occupation within months. The conquest of the "Third Kingdom of Israel" following the 1956 Sinai Campaign collapsed within weeks. We could return to that situation, despite the stumbling blocks of the settlements, with a clear timetable for evacuation, severe sanctions for noncompliance and generous assistance for those staying the course. The tailwinds Obama is enjoying have already changed the prevailing tone toward Israel, even among its traditional "supporters" - those who so blindly and irresponsibly endorsed its occupation and wars.

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1090 367.html

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-05 05:48PM | 0 recs
a cross-reference...

...to more Gideon Levy thoughts:

http://www.mydd.com/comments/2009/6/4/10 208/14483/10#10

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-05 11:06PM | 0 recs
a final addition (to anyone still reading! :))

Levy's comment in above re newfound support on Israeli right for supposed "one state solution" probably refers to the remarks of former Bibi staffer Uri Elitzur at recent confab of hardliner MKs:

When Uri Elitzur, a former chief of staff for Mr. Netanyahu, took the podium at that recent right-wing conference, he shocked the group by saying that the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the creation of a single state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, a state that would include the Palestinians as citizens.

"Have you lost your mind?" one man shouted from the audience. "You're crazy," another agreed, and the jeering became so intense that Mr. Elitzur quickly concluded his remarks.

But the man may not be far off the mark.

Many on Israel's right would, indeed, like to see Israeli sovereignty over all of Palestine, but they'd like it to come without the Palestinians.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/worl d/has-the-two-state-ship-sailed/article1 170673/

(More on this recent Likud bluff-fest conference, entitled "Alternatives to a Two-State Solution," here: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?c id=1243346491959&pagename=JPost/JPAr ticle/ShowFull).

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-05 11:59PM | 0 recs
Re: a final addition (to anyone still reading! :))

I realy appreciated Levy's analysis in the previously quote article:

In the outside world such a country is called an apartheid state. In Israel they call it the one-state solution. Once it was out of bounds, only the radical left in both nations dared to suggest it. Now it is being proposed by the Israeli right, while they blur and repress the reality.

People like Strummerson need to listen more closely and come to understand just what the notion of a "one-state" solution really means: Apartheid. That is precisely why two states is the ONLY solution, and that is the way it is likewise seen now by the US and the rest of the world including the Arab League countries. They just will not be deceived again into accepting concepts that merely support Israel's colonization. In the end, people are not stupid.

by MainStreet 2009-06-06 05:17AM | 0 recs
Re: a final addition (to anyone still reading! :))

Thanks for the links, all worth reading.  Makes one realise just how difficult this could be.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-06 05:41AM | 0 recs

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