Israel's settlement 'natural growth' doublespeak

...or a plan to double the population of Israeli settlers in the West Bank without even trying.

Bulldozer clearing Palestinian land for settlement expansion.

When Bibi Netanyahu agreed to stop building new settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and only permit "natural growth" to occur in his talks with President Obama, it was another clear indication that Israel intends to deceive the Obama administration about its long term goals. Even though Netanyahu agreed to remove some small "illegal" settlements, it was not understood that this concession amounted to nothing less than Israel's intent to double the population of Israeli settlers in the Palestinian territories.

Writing last March, Jonathan Cook, a former British journalist living in Israel, wrote that the US might have delayed in salvaging a two-state solution on account of the settlement expansion being pursued by Israel under the euphemistic phrase, "natural growth."

JERUSALEM: Peace Now's revelation this week that Israel plans to build more than 70,000 homes in the West Bank is the latest in a string of troubling disclosures about settlement expansion. The plans were released with a transparent goal in mind: embarrassing the Israeli leadership as Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, arrived on her first visit to the region since her appointment.

According to the report, about 73,000 homes - most still on the drawing board but 9,000 of them already built - would double the current population of nearly 300,000 settlers in the West Bank (an additional 220,000 are in East Jerusalem).

Of those homes, nearly 20,000 would be built beyond the limits of the steel and concrete barrier Israel is erecting mostly inside the West Bank and which is widely assumed to be Israel's vision of its future political border with a Palestinian state. Another 3,000 would be built in a corridor of land known as E1 that would seal off Palestinian access to East Jerusalem, and about 6,000 are planned for East Jerusalem itself, the only viable capital for a future Palestinian state.


Mr Netanyahu...has suggested vaguely that he will restrict settlements to what is called "natural growth", or expansion to cope with the housing needs of the existing settler population.


British newspapers...reported that Israeli companies were selling cut-price homes in West Bank settlements at London property exhibitions.


...the 120 official settlements...rather than fighting for survival, are growing at a rate not seen since the Oslo process of the late 1990s.


Last week another human rights group, B'Tselem, revealed that Israel's military government in the West Bank, known misleadingly as the civil administration, was preparing the infrastructure, including water and sewage lines, to cope with thousands of new settler homes in the West Bank.

At the same time, reports surfaced that Israel had seized some 330 acres near Bethlehem, declaring it state land, to build a new settlement eventually expected to house 10,000 settlers.

Dror Etkes, who monitors settlement expansion for the human rights group Yesh Din, noted that Israel had arbitrarily declared some 30 per cent of the West Bank "state land", forbidding all Palestinian development on it. But the land theft does not end there.

Details of an internal defence ministry database of the settlements were leaked in January showing that officials had been allowing settlers to build on vast areas of land not confiscated by the state but ostensibly still in private Palestinian hands.

The consequences, as Mr Etkes pointed out, are that, whereas 97 per cent of Palestinian building permits were approved by Israel in 1972, early in the occupation, today that figure has fallen to just five per cent. There is no "natural growth" for Palestinians, even when it is on their own land.

(My thanks to Jonathan Cook for permission)

This malarkey, at least according to Cook's analysis, hides what is actually the most ambition expansion of settlements and population ever conceived by Israel, and could permanently derail any US-sponsored negotiation for a two state solution. The plan, it was also noted, was concocted while Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, the leaders of the centrist Kadima party, backed by Ehud Barak, who either sanctioned or turned a blind eye to much of this planned illegal construction. There is little doubt that the current "right wing" Likud government is fully supportive of this plan. Right wing or left wing seems almost irrelevant to Israel's long term colonial project to annex most of the Palestinian territories.

Although Barak recently ordered the dismantling of 22 of the roughly 100 outposts that are "illegal" under Israeli law (all settlements are illegal under international law), it is not difficult to grasp that such a gesture is trivial or only symbolic, given the vastness of the planned "natural growth" expansion. There is also subterfuge about such dismantlings. For example, as reported by Cook, in a deal with the settlers' political representatives of the large outpost, Migron near Ramallah, which was slated to be dismantled, the price paid for it was an agreement to build an even larger "legal" settlement for Migron's inhabitants nearby.

Therefore, when Netanyahu defied Obama on an Israeli settlement freeze, it was no small thing. It was everything.

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday rebuffed U.S. calls for a full settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank and vowed not to accept limits on building of Jewish enclaves within Jerusalem.

Netanyahu's defiant stance set the stage for a possible showdown with President Barack Obama, who, in talks with the new Israeli prime minister in Washington last week, pressed for a halt to all settlement activity, including natural growth, as called for under a long-stalled peace "road map."

"The demand for a total stop to building is not something that can be justified and I don't think that anyone here at this table accepts it," Netanyahu told his cabinet, referring to Jewish settlements in the West Bank, according to an official.


Netanyahu's comments reaffirmed a position he took in his bid for the premiership in a February election. By natural growth, Israel refers to construction within the boundaries of existing settlements to accommodate growing families.

"Within the boundaries of existing settlements" means doubling their population, which is why Jonathan Cook asks: is it too late for the two state solution? That is to say, if Israel gets away with this doublespeak concept of "natural growth."

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



Tipjar for Jonathan Cook


Homes in illegal Israeli settlements for sale at London expo

Israeli companies are using UK property shows to sell housing in illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, Guardian Unlimited can reveal.

At the Israel Property Exhibition at Brent town hall, North London last Sunday, one company, Anglo-Saxon Real Estate, was offering for sale properties in Maale Adumim and Maccabim. Both West Bank settlements lie on the Palestinian side of the so-called green line, the pre-1967 boundary and often cited as the border between Israel and a future Palestinian state. 10260

by MainStreet 2009-05-25 07:32AM | 0 recs
Re: Tipjar for Jonathan Cook

Jonathan Cook is an important voice on this conflict, and though I don't agree with every point of his analyses, he is genuine and steadfast in the pursuit of justice and peace and qualifies as an ardent truth-teller.

You, however, may have a few problems with him.  Then again, perhaps this piece from him will enable you to be more tolerant of the diversity of thinking on how to resolve this conflict.

March 13, 2008
Two-State Dreamers
If one state is impossible, why is Olmert so afraid of it?
by Jonathan Cook

If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world's most intractable, much the same can be said of the parallel debate about whether its resolution can best be achieved by a single state embracing the two peoples living there or by a division of the land into two separate states, one for Jews and the other for Palestinans.

The central argument of the two-staters is that the one-state idea is impractical and therefore worthless of consideration. Their rallying cry is that it is at least possible to imagine a consensus emerging behind two states, whereas Israelis will never accept a single state. The one-state crowd are painted as inveterate dreamers and time-wasters.

That is the argument advanced by Israel's only serious peace group, Gush Shalom. Here is the view of the group's indefatigable leader, Uri Avnery: "After 120 years of conflict, after a fifth generation was born into this conflict on both sides, to move from total war to total peace in a Single Joint State, with a total renunciation of national independence? This is total illusion."

Given Avnery's high-profile opposition to a single state, many in the international solidarity groups adopt the same position. They have been joined by an influential American intellectual, the philosopher Michael Neumann, who wrote the no-holds-barred book The Case against Israel. He appears to be waging a campaign to discredit the one-state idea too.

Recently in defense of two states, he wrote: "That Israel would concede a single state is laughable. ... There is no chance at all [Israelis] will accept a single state that gives the Palestinians anything remotely like their rights."

Unlike the one-state solution, according to Neumann and Avnery, the means to realizing two states are within our grasp: the removal of the half a million Jewish settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Both believe that, were Israel to withdraw to the pre-1967 borders, it would be possible to create two real states. "A two-state solution will, indeed, leave Palestinians with a sovereign state, because that's what a two-state solution means," argues Neumann. "It doesn't mean one state and another non-state, and no Palestinian proponent of a two-state solution will settle for less than sovereignty."

There is something surprisingly naïve about arguing that, just because something is called a two-state solution, it will necessarily result in two sovereign states. What are the minimum requirements for a state to qualify as sovereign, and who decides?

True, the various two-state solutions proposed by Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert and George Bush, and supported by most of the international community, would fail according to the two-staters' chief criterion: these divisions are not premised on the removal of all the settlers.

But an alternative two-state solution requiring Israel's withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders might still not concede, for example, a Palestinian army - equipped and trained by Iran? - to guard the borders of the West Bank and Gaza. Would that count? And how likely do the campaigners for two real states think it that Israel and the US would grant that kind of sovereignty to a Palestine state?

Importantly, Neumann and Avnery remind us that those with power are the ones who dictate solutions. In which case we can be sure that, when the time is right, Israel and its sponsor, the United States, will impose their own version of the two-state solution and that it will be far from the genuine article advocated by the two-state camp.

But let us return to the main argument: that the creation of two states is inherently more achievable and practical than the establishment of a single state. Strangely, however, from all the available evidence, this is not how it looks to Israel's current leaders.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, for example, has expressed in several speeches the fear that, should the Palestinian population under Israeli rule - both in the occupied territories and inside Israel proper - reach the point where it outnumbers the Jewish population, as demographers expect in the next few years, Israel will be compared to apartheid South Africa. In his words, Israel is facing an imminent and powerful "struggle for one-man-one-vote" along the lines of the anti-apartheid movement.

According to Olmert, without evasive action, political logic is drifting inexorably towards the creation of one state in Israel and Palestine. This was his sentiment as he addressed delegates to the recent Herzliya conference:

"Once we were afraid of the possibility that the reality in Israel would force a bi-national state on us. In 1948, the obstinate policy of all the Arabs, the anti-Israel fanaticism and our strength and the leadership of David Ben-Gurion saved us from such a state. For 60 years, we fought with unparalleled courage in order to avoid living in a reality of bi-nationalism, and in order to ensure that Israel exists as a Jewish and democratic state with a solid Jewish majority. We must act to this end and understand that such a [bi-national] reality is being created, and in a very short while it will be beyond our control."

Olmert's energies are therefore consumed with finding an alternative political program that can be sold to the rest of the world. That is the reason he, and Sharon before him, began talking about a Palestinian state. Strangely, however, neither took up the offer of the ideal two-state solution - the kind Avnery and Neumann want - made in 2002. Then Saudi Arabia and the rest Arab world promised Israel peace in return for its withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders. They repeated their offer last year. Israel has steadfastly ignored them.

Instead an alternative version of two states - the bogus two-state solution - has become the default position of Israeli politics. It requires only that Israel and the Palestinians appear to divide the land, while in truth the occupation continues and Jewish sovereignty over all of historic Palestine is not only maintained but rubber-stamped by the international community. In other words, the Gazafication of the West Bank.

When Olmert warns that without two states "Israel is finished," he is thinking primarily about how to stop the emergence of a single state. So, if the real two-state camp is to be believed, Olmert is a dreamer too, because he fears that a one-state solution is not only achievable but dangerously close at hand. Sharon, it seems, suffered from the same delusion, given that demography was the main impulse for his disengaging from Gaza.

Or maybe both of them understood rather better than Neumann and Avnery what is meant by a Jewish state, and what political conditions are incompatible with it.

In fact, the division of the land demanded by the real two-staters, however equitable, would be the very moment when the struggle for Israel to remain a Jewish state would enter its most critical and difficult phase. Which is precisely why Israel has blocked any meaningful division of the land so far and will continue to do so.

In the unimaginable event that Israel were to divide the land, a Jewish state would not be able to live with the consequences of such a division for long. Eventually, the maintenance of an ethnic Israeli state would (and will) prove unsustainable: environmentally, demographically and ultimately physically. Division of the land simply "fast-forwards" the self-destructiveness inherent in a Jewish state.

Let us examine just a few of the consequences for the Jewish state of a genuine two-state solution.

First, Israel inside its recognized, shrunken borders would face an immediate and very serious water shortage. That is because, in returning the West Bank to the Palestinians, Israel would lose control of the large mountain aquifers that currently supply most of its water, not only to Israel proper but also to the Jewish settlers living illegally in the occupied territories. Israel would no longer be able to steal the water, but would be expected to negotiate for it on the open market.

Given the politics of water in the Middle East that would be no simple matter. However impoverished the new sovereign Palestinian state was, it would lose all legitimacy in the eyes of its own population were it to sell more than a trickle of water to the Israelis.

We can understand why by examining the current water situation. At the moment Israel drains off almost all of the water provided by the rivers and aquifers inside Israel and in the occupied territories for use by its own population, allowing each Palestinian far less than the minimum amount he or she requires each day, according to the World Health Organization.

In a stark warning last month, Israel's Water Authority reported that overdrilling has polluted with sea water most of the supply from the coastal aquifer - that is the main fresh water source inside Israel's recognized borders.

Were Palestinians to be allowed a proper water ration from their own mountain aquifer, as well as to build a modern economy, there would not be enough left over to satisfy Israel's first-world thirst. And that is before we consider the extra demand on water resources from all those Palestinians who choose to realize their right to return, not to their homes in Israel, but to the new sovereign Palestinian state.

In addition, for reasons that we will come to, the sovereign Jewish state would have every reason to continue its Judaization policies, trying to attract as many Jews from the rest of the world as possible, thereby further straining the region's water resources.

The environmental unsustainability of both states seeking to absorb large populations would inevitably result in a regional water crisis. In addition, should Israeli Jews, sensing water shortages, start to leave in significant numbers, Israel would have an even more pressing reason to locate water, by fair means or foul.

It can be expected that in a short time Israel, with the fourth most powerful army in the world, would seek to manufacture reasons for war against its weaker neighbors, particularly the Palestinians but possibly also Lebanon, in a bid to steal their water.

Water shortages would, of course, be a problem facing a single state too. But, at least in one state there would be mechanisms in place to reduce such tensions, to manage population growth and economic development, and to divide water resources equitably.

Second, with the labor-intensive occupation at an end, much of the Jewish state's huge citizen army would become surplus to defense requirements. In addition to the massive social and economic disruptions, the dismantling of the country's military complex would fundamentally change Israel's role in the region, damage its relationship with the only global superpower and sever its financial ties to Diaspora Jews.

Israel would no longer have the laboratories of the occupied territories for testing its military hardware, its battlefield strategies and its booming surveillance and crowd control industries. If Israel chose to fight the Palestinians, it would have to do so in a proper war, even if one between very unequal sides. Doubtless the Palestinians, like Hezbollah, would quickly find regional sponsors to arm and train their army or militias.

The experience and reputation Israel has acquired - at least among the US military - in running an occupation and devising new and supposedly sophisticated ways to control the "Arab mind" would rapidly be lost, and with it Israel's usefulness to the US in managing its own long-term occupation of Iraq.

Also, Israel's vital strategic alliance with the US in dividing the Arab world, over the issue of the occupation and by signing peace treaties with some states and living in a state of permanent war with others, would start to unravel.

With the waning of Israel's special relationship with Washington and the influence of its lobby groups, as well as the loss of billions of dollars in annual subsidies, the Jewish Diaspora would begin to lose interest in Israel. Its money and power ebbing away, Israel might eventually slip into Middle Eastern anonymity, another Jordan. In such circumstances it would rapidly see a large exodus of privileged Ashkenazi Jews, many of whom hold second passports.

Third, the Jewish state would not be as Jewish as some might think: currently one in five Israelis is not Jewish but Palestinian. Although in order to realize a real two-state vision all the Jewish settlers would probably need to leave the occupied territories and return to Israel, what would be done with the Palestinians with Israeli citizenship?

These Palestinians have been citizens for six decades and live legally on land that has belonged to their families for many generations. They are also growing in number at a rate faster than the Jewish population, the reason they are popularly referred to in Israel as a "demographic timebomb."

Were these 1.3 million citizens to be removed from Israel by force under a two-state arrangement, it would be a violation of international law by a democratic state on a scale unprecedented in the modern era, and an act of ethnic cleansing even larger than the 1948 war that established Israel. The question would be: why even bother advocating two states if it has to be achieved on such appalling terms?

Assuming instead that the new Jewish state is supposed to maintain, as Israel currently does, the pretense of being democratic, these citizens would be entitled to continue living on their land and exercising their rights. Inside a Jewish state that had officially ended its conflict with the Palestinians, demands would grow from Palestinian citizens for equal rights and an end to their second-class status.

Most importantly, they would insist on two rights that challenge the very basis of a Jewish state. They would expect the right, backed by international law, to be able to marry Palestinians from outside Israel and bring them to live with them. And they would want a Right of Return for their exiled relatives on a similar basis to the Law of Return for Jews.

Israel's Jewishness would be at stake, even more so than it is today from its Palestinian minority. It can be assumed that Israel's leaders would react with great ferocity to protect the state's Jewishness. Eventually Israel's democratic pretensions would have to be jettisoned and the full-scale ethnic cleansing of Palestinian citizens implemented.

Still, do these arguments against the genuine two-state arrangement win the day for the one-state solution? Would Israel's leaders not put up an equally vicious fight to protect their ethnic privileges by preventing, as they are doing now, the emergence of a single state?

Yes, they would and they will. But that misses my point. As long as Israel is an ethnic state, it will be forced to deepen the occupation and intensify its ethnic cleansing policies to prevent the emergence of genuine Palestinian political influence - for the reasons I cite above and for many others I don't. In truth, both a one-state and a genuine two-state arrangement are impossible given Israel's determination to remain a Jewish state.

The obstacle to a solution, then, is not about dividing the land but about Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacism that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states.

The solution, therefore, reduces to the question of how to defeat Zionism. It just so happens that the best way this can be achieved is by confronting the illusions of the two-state dreamers and explaining why Israel is in permanent bad faith about seeking peace.

In other words, if we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable façade of Zionism might crumble.

Without Zionism, the obstacle to creating either one or two states will finally be removed. And if that is the case, then why not also campaign for the solution that will best bring justice to both Israelis and Palestinians? 2510

PS I would never do this in anyone else's diary.  But as you generally ignore the links I provide you and as you pasted both an entire article and one of your own diaries into the comments of my recent post, I figure it's fair game as you consider it appropriate.  Anyway, my only real point here is to alert you that you are supporting the work of someone you may or may not feel comfortable with given his position on two states.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 05:19AM | 0 recs
Re: Tipjar for Jonathan Cook

"if we stopped distracting ourselves with the Holy Grail of the two-state solution, we might channel our energies into something more useful: discrediting Israel as a Jewish state, and the ideology of Zionism that upholds it. Eventually the respectable façade of Zionism might crumble."

And Cook has been busy trying to do just that for the past decade, and in a way so have people like Avnery and Halper, but as Halper noted some time back about the effects of Israeli and Palestinian peace activism and protests, it has been a voice in the wilderness. With Israel actually moving more right wing with loyalty oaths and demands for recongition as a Jewish state, ignoring its own nonJewish population (which it only tolerates), Zionism isn't going to crumble any time soon, if ever.

The only one state solution Israel is likely to accept is one in which it annexes the Palestinian territories minus Gaza and allows Palestinians to live semi-autonomously in enclaves, or if you wish, cantons, but which the rest of the world will rightly call bantustans.

One state solutions totally miss this likely reality, but they also miss the drive for Palestinian statehood. Has anyone inquired about what the Palestinians want? Abbas and everyone else has actually been repeating it for several years, even while the settlements continued.

And that is where Obama is stuck if he cannot arrange a total freeze.

by MainStreet 2009-05-26 06:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Tipjar for Jonathan Cook

I'm just the messenger today.  And I held off so as not to cause a distraction on the day the diary was posted.  The fact remains that two of the authorities you cite with admiration are deeply skeptical about the two state path and are looking forward to a one state concept.  Both think that what Israel will accept and what it won't will become less relevant as it loses its demographic majority.  You may or may not agree.  But that's rather beside the point.  You consistently cite them, so I think it's fair to let you know they do not hold to your orthodoxy.  

If I have a personal point to make it's that it's important to recognize as valid the debate on the left and not to label those you disagree with as closet likudniks or secret right wingers or dupes of the occupation.  There is a diversity here that deserves recognition and can sharpen opposition to the policies of occupation.  Finally, the critiques of two state advocacy such as this piece presents might actually contribute to sharpening that advocacy if its advocates, such as us take them into account and answer them as opposed to dismissing them.

Other than that, I did not come to debate one state, two state, red state, blue state today.  As I said, I'm just the messenger and thought you deserved to be aware of Cook's position.  And this piece is not idiosyncratic.  He has others with a similar perspective.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 07:56AM | 0 recs
and yes

of course the fact that a majority of Palestinians want their own state counts, though many also voice interest in a non-Zionist democratic one state situation.  But I was remiss in not voicing my agreement with you for the 1,000,000,000,000th time that this is of critical importance and one of the main reasons I support the two state process over my reservations.

But I also think Cook's critique deserves more careful consideration than you give it.  It is neither alarmist nor idealist and ultimately based on a sober analysis of political and material realities.  One can still disagree with his ultimate conclusions, but there are valid arguments in this piece.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 08:19AM | 0 recs
returning to the conversation....

Strum, you say above that you "don't agree with every point of [Cook's] analyses."  What are your principal disagreements?

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-26 08:23AM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

1. As I said above, I am not interested in debating this today.  I simply wanted MainStreet to know that Cook holds a position that he has shown little tolerance for in the past.  I have neither time nor patience to engage in wider debate today and this is beyond the scope of the diary.  This diary is about settlements, not the diversity of approaches to resolving the conflict.  And we all concur that Israel has been disingenuous with regard to this issue and that the settlement enterprise represents the single greatest obstacle to any peaceful resolution.

2. I will no longer answer your interrogatives.  My experience trying to do so in the past has proved unproductive with regard to wider discussion and I do not consider your questions to be put forward in good faith.

3. If you consider me a neo-con and right-winger, what do you care anyway?

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 08:35AM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

I believe this is unfair, Strum.  Why bad faith?

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-26 08:40AM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Some of the ways you have engaged my opinions in the past:

"Likudnik," "neo-con," "right-winger," "bizarre."  You have also accused me of "bad faith."  You unilaterally took it upon yourself to declare me "outside of the two state tent," despite my consistent support for the two state process.  Also, you implied in a previous diary that one must be either wholly committed to two states or to one state in order to hold a coherent and valid position.  Your implied dismissal of the invalidity and incoherence of actively supporting a two state solution while holding critical reservations and attending to multiple sides of the debate in progressive circles seems an inherently bad faith and overly-ideological position from my point of view.  I simply have nothing to gain by sparring meaninglessly with someone whose perspective I see accordingly as intellectually and pragmatically impoverished.  Would you engage with someone in good faith if you were convinced they were arguing in bad faith?  Furthermore, why would you care so much?

Then there is your accusation that I am an "Iran alarmist" in the grounds that I rarely raise Iran.  This isn't possibly a good faith accusation.  I may as well accuse you of being homophobic because I have never seen you articulate a position on gay marriage.  This is patently ridiculous and seems a facile mode of attack as opposed to engagement.  Such an accusation proves your bad faith in my eyes, and as opposed to you I am not interested in playing games.  I prefer to spend my blogging time engaging with those whop either disagree or agree with me in good faith.

Of course, you are entitled to accuse me of unfairness.  Based on what I just laid out, I think that in itself is an unfair accusation.  But I am no longer interested in what you think about me.  Why would I be?

But if you accept Cook's analysis whole cloth in the piece I posted in my comment above, why don't you agree with the statement he closes with?

Without Zionism, the obstacle to creating either one or two states will finally be removed. And if that is the case, then why not also campaign for the solution that will best bring justice to both Israelis and Palestinians?

This is clearly a reference to a one state solution.

Anyhow, that's why.  Take your shots.  Have fun.  I'm off to work.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 08:58AM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Strummerson, I have never engaged you in bad faith.  My arguments have always been completely direct and fully transparent.

Also, you implied in a previous diary that one must be either wholly committed to two states or to one state in order to hold a coherent and valid position.

This is false.

Your implied dismissal of the invalidity and incoherence of actively supporting a two state solution while holding critical reservations and attending to multiple sides of the debate in progressive circles seems an inherently bad faith and overly-ideological position from my point of view.


There is, naturally, nothing inherently anti-progressive about objecting to a two state solution from the left.  And, actually, there's nothing inherently illegitimate about objecting to a two state solution from the right; it is, of course, not a progressive objection but I myself have no a priori problem with conservatives posting here.

But pretending to be the former when you are the latter IS illegitimate -- and it is deeply disruptive to open discourse.  That's why I care (and I often wish my schedule permitted me the time to finally be able to address the full back-and-forth of your obfuscations to completion in a single thread).

You summarized your supposed position on the matter as such in this comment:

I've made several comments that display my reservations about the viability of a two state solution at this point in history, given Israel's settlement enterprise and also some reservations over the ethicality of dividing lands and populations according to these criteria. 15825/461/87#87

But this is BS (and not merely because your pseudo-position itself is incoherent.)  Indeed, you give yourself away in much earlier diaries.

Here you are in your apparent first diary on the matter:

Israel is highly unlikely to accept a Palestinian state that is fully sovereign with regard to its military, water rights, and border control.  And setting aside competing narratives of how we arrived at this point, doing so would likely entail very real and enormous security risks to Israel's population. 13/478#commenttop

And here's a later comment of yours, as to what he means by "not viable":

A fully viable negotiated two state solution would also offer, at least theoretically, normalization.  This is the Saudi/Arab League proposal: full withdrawal to the 1948 armistice lines for full recognition and diplomatic/economic integration into the region.  This might be slightly amended with 1/1 land swaps and some sharing of Jerusalem.  But it would require a close approximation and full equivalent of Gaza and the West Bank.  The sticking points pertain to control of the Jordan River valley and natural resource, water rights being most important. 4175/8842/93#93

Again, there's nothing per se illegitimate in holding anti-peace positions.  You're neither the first nor the last on myDD to do so.  But it is long past time that you own up to them.

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-26 03:22PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

I don't know why you think any of those quotes back up your assertions about my positions being bad faith anti-peace obfuscations.  To borrow your elegant argument: "bullshit."  The fact that you post these quotes as proofs with no analysis to explain why you think they indicate what you think they do shows how facile your arguments are, and ultimately your bad faith interest in attacking me, my motives and supposed underlying positions.  One can very easily support one concept with reservations and recognize the merits of others.  If that possibility eludes you, or you find it "bizzare" and elect to go on a smear mission, that's neither my fault not my problem.  But whatever.  Think about me what you will.  It's none of my concern.  Sure.  I'm a closet war-mongering fascist.  Suffice it to say that you have a lot of work to do to convince this community to see my positions as you do.  Make your case about me to them if you wish.  This is not interesting to me.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 03:57PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Your response is that I haven't sufficiently explained my argument to you, and that proves bad faith?

Don't play dumb, Strum.  

The quoted comments show your belief that certain two state solutions may endanger Israel.  You are entitled to believe this, but don't pretend that in so doubting the "viability of a two state solution," you are questioning it from the left.  You aren't.

You are questioning it from the right, ala these folks: agename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid =1242212439398

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-26 04:31PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Now I'm dumb too.

You haven't even mounted an argument at all, you simply threw a few quotes out of context and QED, what a genius!

I have acknowledge critiques of the two state solution, primarily from the perspective of the settlement enterprise.  But I also think that two states will not be an immediate panacea.  That's not playing dumb.  I just refuse to be naive about it.  I think it represents the best possible situation near term.  But to pretend that it will present immediate perfection is patently idiotic.  And if you find that position either incoherent or one of "bad faith" it says more about you than about me.

As for your bad faith, my accusation rests on your unfounded and/or deluded assumptions about my underlying motives and positions and your consistent posing of malicious questions intended to expose me, dressed up as honest and open questions seeking clarification.  That's crap.  Your arguments are empty and your reasoning embarrassing and your intentions hostile.  So drop this self-righteous and transparent pose of being the defender of open discourse against evil old Strummerson.  Nobody but MS will buy it.  The rest of us have better things to do.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 04:54PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Please don't interpret this comment as an attempt at ganging up, but Yuedo is correct. At times it is as if you are trying to have it both ways, when your positions sound Orwellian to me, contradictory, and.or seem to reflect doublespeak.

by MainStreet 2009-05-26 06:34PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Only to the two of you.  Is everyone else simply mesmerized by my evil deceptions?  There are many perceptive people who participate here.  Only you and yuedo respond to me and my positions like this.  Supporting one thing while acknowledging valid criticisms and shortcomings as the best possible approach available is not trying to "have it both ways" and not double-speak.  Either everyone else has been duped or your and yuedo's assumptions and evaluations of my motives and arguments are flawed.  The problem is that the majority of yuedo's participation on this blog consists of trying to expose me and you are committed to your accusations.  Giving them up would require admitting you may have been wrong.  This isn't something you generally excel at.  Regardless, your shared obsession and/or suspicions, shared by no one else here, is frankly more than a little silly.  Don't the two of you have anything better to spend time on?

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 06:42PM | 0 recs
Straw. Man.

Forgive the continued "trollish crap-fest," professor, but I hadn't realized that what was at issue in any of these discussions was the degree of magical utopian splendor entailed in the two state solution.

I maintain that the purchase of tequila is both a viable and necessary act with respect to problem of making margaritas, just as I maintain that the establishment of the State of Palestine is a viable and necessary act with respect to resolving of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict while preserving a democratic Israel.   I don't expect either act to cure cancer or unmelt polar ice caps.

You believe that certain two state solutions present an unacceptable security risk to Israel, such that such solutions are (for this reason and perhaps others too) "unviable."  As such you are interested in the possibility of alternatives to preserve a democratic Israel without a State of Palestine.

You are not the only Israeli with such interest -- the current PM of Israel shares this goal, as does his party.  The name ofbtht party is the Likud.  What neither you, the PM, or his party seem to realize is that no such alternative exists.

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-26 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Straw. Man.

No.  Wrong.  That's not what I believe.  It's not what I wrote.  And I'm not going to be your straw man.  Here's a clarification for you to twist and turn on its head.  I believe that a two state solution presents a security risk that is unacceptable to many Israelis.  I believe it's an acceptable risk and less of one than maintaining the occupation.  You seem to believe that a two state solution can be rammed down Israel's throat by force.  I do not.  I think enough Israelis just might be convinced, pressured and coerced, but at some point, a critical mass of Israelis must consent.  Given that disagreement between us, the current unacceptability of the security risks in the minds of short-sighted Israelis, combined with the settlements and infrastructure and its supporters, represent serious threats to the viability of the two state solution.  Given  the preferrability of two states over the occupation, or any attempt to establish either one state or a bi-national confederation at present, along with recognition of the aspirations of most Palestinians and the commitment of most Israelis to political Zionism leads me to support it.  If you find that incoherent, fine.  I think that's your limitation, one not shared by anyone else on this blog but for MS.  

On the other hand, recourse to associating me with Bibi and the Likud demonstrates further your ill will and bad faith and this concludes my clarification and debate.  I have nothing to gain from feeding your trollish ill will but aggravation.  

Again, convince someone else that I am a covert likudnik trying to undermine the two state solution.  Let's see if your conspiracy theory catches on beyond you and MS.  It's awfully difficult to convince discerning and well meaning participants who are familiar with the body of my work of something so patently false and lacking in evidence.  Your interest in doing so as opposed to offering something constructive is as pretentious as it is arrogant.  But again, I consider that your problem.

Now troll someone else.  I'm sure you can cook up a bogus vendetta against anyone without much problem.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 07:22PM | 0 recs
Re: Straw. Man.

Fine, so potentially acceptable "very real and enormous security risks to Israel's population." 13/478#commenttop

Point still stands, professor. In full.

What makes you think it is ok to go on -- for diary after diary and after comment after comment -- always claiming that your doubts about the two state solution and its viability are solely rooted in your progressivism, in your ethical concern for Palestinian people along with some logistical worries about feasibility of settlement  elimination -- yet all the while failing to disclose that you also just happen to believe that the establishment a Palestinian state will create "very real and enormous security risks to Israel's population"?

Like most people here (and like the entire American security establishment, as well as the few progressive voices in the Israeli security establishment), I don't share this "security-minded" belief.  I believe that the opposite is true: that indeed the greatest security risk Israel can possibly face is in the failure to establish a Palestinian state.

Look, as I'm sure you are aware, interest in supposed "non-simple-minded complexities" of issues is not always progressive;  on some issues, it frequently marks you as decidedly un-progressive.  All of us would have little trouble seeing through the "open-mindedness" of the tobacco scientist, the global warming doubter, the "marriage defender," the creationist, the torture apologist.  (Contra Godwin, I cant help but also note the Holocaust denier -- I do want to stress here BTW, as the final example should make clear, I'm absolutely not intending to equate you with any of these; the examples are merely illustrative, like your homophobia analogy)  They too characterize accepted truth as "simplistic," and I'm sure they can be quite convincing before awareness of their duplicity was raised.

Don't think you should take so much at this point from the fact that it has only been MS and me who have called you out here as duplicitous.  It's natural to assume good intentions in a committed and otherwise progressive diarist, esp. with respect to a subject in which one is a non-expert.  Further, you'll note that the commenter support you're claiming has been largely limited to criticism of the sometimes over-the-top style of we your critics.  You have not won adherents to your core propositions, nor can such support be read as approval of your own frequent rhetorical excesses.  (Notably, you've been called out on this yourself by canadian gal, obviously no MainStreet apologist.)

Strum, absent your sneakiness, I think your posts have a very important contribution to make here.  You are obviously quite knowledgeable and have frequent unique perspectives to add.  Especially with respect to the politics of other countries, I see no reason at all that right-of-center perspectives need be silenced here -- you are certainly a much more interesting non-Osloist than the typical GIYUS talking-points spouter!

But honesty matters.  Own your views, and you will have a frequent and enthusiastic reader in me.

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-27 09:39AM | 0 recs
Re: Straw. Man.

"I believe that the opposite is true: that indeed the greatest security risk Israel can possibly face is in the failure to establish a Palestinian state."

If you bothered to read what I wrote, you'd note that I agree with this.  I've written so many times.  One is risky, the other greater.

Again, given the mode of your engagement, grasshopper, I couldn't care less whether you think me honest, whether I "own" my views in your eyes, whether you understand them, and whether you want to be an eager and enthusiastic reader.  From what I've seen, the vast majority of your participation on this blog has consisted of dishonest, bad faith, and ill will interrogations of my positions in order to expose my alleged obfuscations.  You offer almost nothing constructive to anyone or anything and you are not interested in the least in an in depth understanding of my positions or honest engagement.

At least you have owned your ad hominem raison d'etre on this blog and are honest about it.  But that matters little.  As I said, convince someone else that I am a covert likud neo-con acting in bad faith.  I challenge you to even try.

As for your obnoxious presumption to be door keeper of the "two state tent" and arbiter of who and what is "progressive," they couldn't have less bearing on my positions or the debate on this blog.

All you offer is nuisance.  Go badger someone else to meet your standards.  Or expose me if you think you can.  The attempt to do so will only further degrade debate of this issue on this site.  Maybe you are the one who wants to shut down debate and undermine suppport for two states.

Other than that, I have only one more question before I cease to play around with your unethical and counter-productive nonsense.  It's a question for you and your sidekick MS:  Which one of you is Tweedle-Dee?

by Strummerson 2009-05-27 09:52AM | 0 recs
Re: Straw. Man.

I've read you, professor.  This is the first time you have stated that the failure of the two state solution presents a security risk for Israel, so glad to see that you are on board on that.

But you miss the point.  We still don't agree.

A Palestinian state is NOT risky.  It is not a security risk to Israel, much less "very real and enormous" one.

To hold heterodox (and, here, unpopular) beliefs about the expected consequences of Palestinian statehood while advocating for possibility of eventual de-facto acceptance of such state's denial supposedly grounded in progressive concerns is duplicitous.  Good faith requires highlighting these beliefs and plainly articulating how much they might also inform your less-than-conventional (and, in my mind, less-than-progressive) enthusiasm for a Palestinian state.

Your continuing resistance to this very simple point is the issue here.

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-27 10:31AM | 0 recs
by Strummerson 2009-05-27 10:40AM | 0 recs
Re: Straw. Man.

Ummmm, no.

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-27 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Straw. Man.


by Strummerson 2009-05-27 10:49AM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Here's an idea, since you have chosen to designate yourself a good faith defender of "open discourse" against my incoherent bad faith obfuscations, why don't you write a diary on this.  Make your case and defend it.  Here's your title: "Anti-Peace Obfuscations on Israel-Palestine."  I won't even participate.  Take all the free shots you want.  I'll let those who have attended to my work here in good faith and in context decide.  If you can convince them, then I will accept correction.

In the mean time, don't bother to pose questions to me.  Why would I respond to someone who has already decided I am a bad faith obfuscator and who is committed to exposing me?  Your acknowledgment that this is your purpose exposes the bad faith assumptions and hostile motives that lie behind your questions.  If that's not a definition of "bad faith."  I'm not sure what is.

So go ahead.  Write your diary.  Make your case, MS will be glad to help.  Or leave off.  But it's enough already.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

I don't need a special diary to respond to you, Strum.

by YuedoTiko 2009-05-26 04:32PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

You need something more than the trollish crap-fest you posted above.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 04:55PM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

By labeling me a proPalestinian and referencing my "supporters," whoever they are, you put yourself on the other side of the coin. But that is fine. We could not have these debates without disagreement, and what more disagreement can there be in this issue than taking different views.

One does not have to agree with all of Cook's positions but it is impossible not to acknowledge his work on behalf of Palestinians living under Zionist nationalism, in occupation or as second class citizens.

One reason that everyone from Obama on down supports two states is that it is not conceivable that Israel will ever open its laws and society to nonJews, and the closedown is getting worse. Beyond this notion of one state is the question of Palestinian freedom and self determination in a recognized state of their own. They ov course alread live in their country of origin.

The Palestinian leadership has never supported a one state solution, and even Arafat's suggestion that we can live together was merely a threat that he obviously didn't think would be taken seriously. They are wise.

by MainStreet 2009-05-26 08:50AM | 0 recs
Re: returning to the conversation....

Where did I label you, beyond invoking your advocacy of two states?  I also did not refer to your supporters.  There's either an issue here with reading comprehension or context.

But it approaches demagoguery to dismiss or ignore those who dissent from two states.  "Everyone on down?"  Better to engage them on the merits.  I'm sorry you need to erase those who disagree with you.

As for the Palestinian leadership, many have and some still do support one state.  You can't rewrite history at your convenience.  This was the standard FATAH position prior to 1988.  Some even in FATAH still reference it as an alternative.  But the fact that the majority of the Palestinian leadership supports two states is one of the central reasons I support it at this point as well.  As I have said.

Off to work now.

by Strummerson 2009-05-26 09:06AM | 0 recs
Re: 'natural growth' doublespeak

For reference sake, the definition of doublespeak is:

"language used to deceive usually through concealment or misrepresentation of truth ; also gobbledygook"

However, I don't think that "gobbledygook" really fits the bill here. Stick with doublespeak.

by MainStreet 2009-05-25 08:15AM | 0 recs

I'm recommending your diary because it addresses a significant issue and clear difference of policy as the US and Israel embark together toward renewing the Middle East peace process.  I urge you, however, to refrain from some of your more polemic assertions as it is difficult to agree with all of them.

Nevertheless this is an important issue and you are to be commended for bringing it up.  I'm not sure I get the evidence for your assertion that 'doubling' these settlement populations is indicated by Likud policy although your suggestion generally that, 'There is little doubt that the current "right wing" Likud government is fully supportive of this plan' is supported by the Reuters citation.  Do you have any other recent evidence for the scale of this 'natural growth?'  It remains an obstacle to US ambitions for a 'two-state' solution in any case.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-25 04:25PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

This is Cook's source, the Peace Now report, concerning the planned number of new homes in already established settlements. The number reported is actually 73,000. .asp?pi=61&docid=3566

As for the doubling of population, I guess you get to there by multiplying the projected number of homes to be built time 4, the average family size. That would come to over 280,000 new residents, although I'm speculating here about family size. I haven't read the report itself just having found it. If I find additional info, I'll post it.

by MainStreet 2009-05-25 06:06PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

Well that is certainly an interesting link, but it should be pointed out that only 15,156 of the total housing units are approved of which 8,950 have apparently already been built.  Using the same figures as you gave, 4 persons per unit, for approved, unbuilt units and comparing it to the current 300k figure given on the site I make it (15,156 - 8,950) * 4 = 24,824 or 8.2% of the current population.  That's a slightly different result than doubling don't you think?

I don't think you can lay the unapproved plans at Likud's door just yet, though time will tell.  Read again closely:

Netanyahu said Israel had no plans to set up any new West Bank settlements. But he told Obama, according to the official, that his government "does not accept limitations on building" within what Israel defines as its capital, the Jerusalem municipality, an area that includes Arab East Jerusalem and parts of the West Bank captured in a 1967 Middle East war.

Adam Entous - Netanyahu defies Obama on Israeli settlement freeze Reuters 24 May 09

Whether the unapproved housing units cited comprise 'new' settlements is beyond me but from looking at the planning diagrams it is arguable that they are.  I agree there are serious concerns and it is really a matter of parsing Netanyahu's statements and getting further clarification, at this point, but it still seems to me that 'doubling' is a stretch.

Furthermore it should be pointed out that this may just be a negotiating tactic to give Netanyahu more cards in his hand and potentially use 'natural growth' as another bargaining chip.  He is certainly pissing Obama off, I'm guessing.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-25 06:29PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

Cook's report indicates that these expansion plans were developed under the previous administration. But as I reprinted the Peace Now report below, it may be more clarifying. These expansions do not involve new settlements, although I believe one was just started in the Jordan Valley.

We do need to keep in mind that these are planned expansions, but the diary doesn't claim otherwise. Still, the point that expansion under Netanyahu is to take into account just "natural growth" then it cannot be doubted that the numbers Peace Now reports is in the planning stage and, if carried out, will double the population.

by MainStreet 2009-05-25 06:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

Well you are neglecting to address the 'approved' vs 'unapproved' issue I brought to your attention and which seems central to your assertion.  I'm not an expert on this subject and have only applied what seems logical reasoning to the source you cited but that Likud would 'approve' the remainder of these plans in the harsh international scrutiny now being applied to this issue is an assumption I am just not going to accept.  You could be right but I have no evidence of it in the source you provided, which dates from March and by your own admission incudes planning from a previous administration.  As to what part of these units comprise 'new' settlements I wouldn't know but I'm guessing there are other posters here more familiar with the subject who would be able to shed some light on that point.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-25 06:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

The Peace Now report quotes from an Israeli government report that is written in Hebrew. But this is the Peace Now conclusions (emphasis added):

Ministry of Housing's Plans for the West Bank - March 2009

Settlement Watch Team

The Ministry of Construction and Housing is planning to construct at least 73,300 housing units in the West Bank

An examination of the data available on the Israeli government Website ( that contains maps and information from the Ministry of Housing, reveals that in plans for the West Bank at least 15,000 housing units have already been approved, and plans for an additional 58,000 housing units are yet to be approved.

This Peace Now report is based on this data published on the official government website.
However the plans published are only a small part of the overall housing plans for the Occupied Territories, there are other thousands of housing units in plans of the local authorities, private initiators and other public authorities, all of which we are in the process of collating.

Main findings:

* Total number of housing units in the published plans - 73,302, out of which, 5,722 are in East Jerusalem

  • Total number of housing units in approved plans - 15,156, approx. 8,950 of which have already been built.
  • Total number of housing units in planning stages - 58,146.
  • If all the plans are realized, the number of settlers in the Territories will be doubled (an addition of approx. 300,000 persons, based upon an average of 4 persons in each housing unit).
  • In Gush Etzion (Bethlehem area) 17,000 housing units are planned in areas outside the existing settlements.
  • At least six (6) outposts are included in the Ministry of Housing plans (Magen Dan, Givat Hadagan, Givat Hatamar, Bnei Adam, Bat Ayin West, Hill 26).
  • There are plans for huge construction to double the size of some settlements, including: Beitar Illit, Ariel, Givat Ze'ev, Maaleh Adumim, Efrat and Geva Binyamin.
  • Approx. 19,000 housing units are planned in settlements that are beyond the constructed path of the Fence (Kiryat Arba, Karnei Shomron, Ariel, Geva Binyamin, Immanuel, Revava).
  • The plans in the settlements constitute 22% of the total housing units that are in planning stages in the Ministry of Housing.

by MainStreet 2009-05-25 06:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

Yeah, I read it, see above.  The irony is that if you had said, '...or a plan to increase the population of Israeli settlers in the West Bank by 8% without even trying,' it would have been just as effective, considerably more credible and advance your argument further without inviting doubts.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-25 06:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

It was not my intention to revise or critique Cook's article or the Peace Now data it was based upon, to be more convincing or analytical. Plans to enlarge settlements, approved or not approved, indicates an intent by the Israeli government to vastly expand, double according to Peace Now, the number of settlers living in homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Will those yet to be approved plans eventually be executed is probably not the point. The point is that, even before Netanyahu was elected, Israel completely ignored the Road Map, and from 2003 (as I indicated in a previous diary based on the work of Tanya Reinhart), settlement building actually accelerated. The promise now not to build further settlements is being replaced by yet another phenomenon, "natural growth," which could lead to a doubling of settler population if all plans currently in the fire are approved and carried out. We are again being snookered by deceptive action.

But you have a point and I thank you for making it.

by MainStreet 2009-05-25 07:04PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

And your point about the Road Map is well taken, also, and certainly reinforces the perception that settler activity in the West Bank is perhaps the most difficult obstacle we face in this process.  And Netanyahu's statement that 'I don't think that anyone here at this table accepts it' is significant but underscores just who is sitting at that table and demonstrates that Netanyahu is playing to his ministerial constituency and looking for some cover in taking this stand in direct opposition to Obama.

The point, however, is that he is not going to have to negotiate with his own cabinet but with Fatah, Hamas, the Syrians and, yes, the US before he is through.  To me this was just a cheer-leading exercise before the game.  Nevertheless a timely and interesting diary on an important subject.  I hope you continue to follow this issue as events unfold.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-05-25 07:17PM | 0 recs
Re: Doubling?

Sorry, I misposted my response. See below.

by MainStreet 2009-05-26 02:14PM | 0 recs
Re: 'natural growth' doublespeak

Will do, and I hope you too will continue your diaries here on foreign policy issues and other matters.

by MainStreet 2009-05-26 04:27AM | 0 recs


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