Settlements, settlements, settlements, WTF! UPDATE

...what the hell are settlements?

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That is a reasonable question because nothing is more deceiving about the topic of settlements in the West Bank of Palestine than their expansiveness. The term "settlement" is actually a euphemism that hides the reality on the West Bank: the massiveness of the Israeli colonialism that has already taken place.

This latest map (above), dated late 2008, provides some idea of the extent of Israeli building in the West Bank: the villages, towns, and virtual cities that exist as "settlements," many of which have Burger King and Starbuck concessions, shopping malls, and fancy homes with swimming pools that suck water out of the limited West Bank aquifers.

For sake of clarity, since the map legend may be unreadable, the blue triangles represent legal settlements (all settlements are illegal according to international law), while the red triangles represent illegal outposts, small settlements, some of which Israel recently indicated it would dismantle.

If anyone thinks that an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal based on the withdrawal of settlements ala the Arab League proposal is going to be easy, think again. On looking at the reality, one actually has to wonder if Obama hasn't bought into the Alon Plan, in which it is understood that Israel will keep 40-50% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. What's left for the Palestinians?

It is otherwise going to take "grit" to convince the Israelis that their future security is dependent upon a satisfactory peace with the "Arabs," as they are called in Israel, the people called Palestinians for the rest of us.

UPDATE: Caught this piece over at Huffington Post;

Amb. Marc Ginsberg, Former US Amb. to Morocco

"Natural Growth": Netanyahu's Road Map to a Mid East Roadblock

Taking on the sacred cow of Israeli settlements construction in the West Bank has historically been a fool's errand for American presidents.

Caught between Israel's concerned supporters at home (many of whom do not appreciate the complexity of the issue) and domestic Israeli politics, no amount of presidential arm-twisting between strong allies seems to have slowed their growth or stopped their spread, even though successive Israeli governments since 1993 have pledged to ice the construction. Both Labor and Likud leaders have talked the talk, but rarely walked the walk away from that ever so tantalizing next hammer swing. But each swing of that hammer has only dealt another blow to the vision of a viable Palestinian state, as well as a safe and secure Jewish and democratic state of Israel.

I commend President Obama for demanding a deep freeze on settlement construction. Unlike his predecessors, Obama appears no longer willing to engage in the vexing winking and nodding that has characterized American attitudes to settlement growth in the past. I take that stand as a passionate Zionist dedicated to Israel's freedom and security, who just as passionately believes in the right of Palestinians to have their own state living peacefully and viably side-by-side with a Jewish and democratic state of Israel.


So many proIsraeli supporters are coming back to reality that Jewish opinion is split more than ever. It's liberal democracy versus fascism. The first battle against this fascism is the settlement freeze.

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



Re: Settlements, settlements, settlements, WTF!

In addition to this helpful map, I suggest reading this short piece from the BBC about what settlements look like from the inside from both Palestinian and Settler perspectives.

 Katya Adler
BBC News, Jerusalem


"I feel like a stranger in my own land. I can't go for a long walk. I have to sneak around. Otherwise I'm stopped by Israeli soldiers or threatened by Israeli settlers."

Raja Shehadeh is an award-winning author. A Palestinian mourning the erosion and theft, as he sees it, of his birthplace, the West Bank.

He took me to a stunning viewpoint over the rough, rolling hills outside the Palestinian town of Ramallah. A nature-lover, Mr Shehadeh pointed out the beautiful spring flowers all around us, as well as the Jewish settlements.

"Every Palestinian town here is surrounded by these settlements," he tells me. "The hills here have been chopped and flattened by them. They are an assault on one's sense of beauty and of belonging in the land."

More and more Israelis have moved to the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 1967 when Israel captured and occupied the territory. This is illegal under international law. Palestinians say it makes peace here impossible.

"The only consistent policy Israeli governments have had over the last 40 years is not seeking peace and building settlements in the Palestinian territories," says Mr Shehadeh.

"This is no longer occupation, this is colonisation. Israel has no right to this land. God is not in the business of real estate. If Israel wants peace, it cannot be on this land."


So what is a Jewish settlement? The name can be rather misleading. It might suggest something temporary, ad hoc maybe. But when you're in them, or look at them from neighbouring Palestinian villages, you get the impression they are being built to remain, at least for the foreseeable future.

Take Efrat, close to the Palestinian town of Bethlehem. Typically for a settlement it's made up of rows of modern-looking white houses with red roofs.

Also typically it's built on a hilltop.  Settlers say that's important for security reasons. Settlements tend to be surrounded by a buffer zone - land Palestinians therefore can't farm.

Settlements are also usually serviced by roads Palestinians aren't allowed to use.

Many Jewish settlements are getting bigger. Nine thousand people live in Efrat now. The community plans, if it can, to expand to 30,000.

Already, the number of Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - land Palestinians say is theirs and must be part of their future state - is close to half a million .

The Israeli human rights group Peace Now says Israel's government has construction plans to double settler numbers in the West Bank, an allegation the Israeli housing ministry denies.


I was invited to visit a school in Efrat settlement. Pupils Ari Ehrlich, Matan Dansker and Yadin Gellman were born there.

They are a couple of years away from serving in Israel's army where they may well end up manning one of the many Israeli checkpoints controlling Palestinian movement within the West Bank.


Do they accept the international community's land-for-peace proposal? Would they give up their homes for peace with the Palestinians?

"Clearly I don't want to leave my house," says Ari. "But if there was a guarantee of peace, I'd go." The other two agree.

"But it's not about land anymore," insists Matan. "Palestinians can have land for peace. We've tried it before, like when Israel left Gaza. It doesn't work. When you see what a Hamas leader wants, he's not interested in Efrat, in my school or my house. His problem is me being an Israeli. A Jew. It's not about land, it's about destroying us."

"Anyway," says Yadin, "even if we move out of the settlements. That won't be it. They'll ask for more. That won't be the end of the story."

The boys show me their school map, used in schools across Israel. The West Bank is not marked as a separate territory.

Ari, Matan and Yadin say Israel still views the land as its own. Except for the Palestinian towns there.

They tell me they all hope for peace in their lifetime. In the meantime, they'll stay put in their houses and school. Buildings they know international law deems illegal.


The proposed two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict envisages a country called Palestine existing alongside Israel - but many think the existence of Jewish settlements and their infrastructure make a viable Palestinian state impossible.

"The three areas - Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are separated," says Allegra Pacheco of the United Nations' Humanitarian Office in the Palestinian Territories.

"Israel controls East Jerusalem and large parts of the West Bank. There's a wall dividing East Jerusalem from the West Bank, preventing most Palestinians from accessing the best schools, the best hospitals or going to pray in mosques or churches there.

"More and more East Jerusalem land is being set aside for Jewish settlers. Then, within the West Bank there are more than 600 physical obstacles placed by Israel blocking Palestinian movement.

"Israeli settlers occupy 60% of the land there and they are scattered all over the places. This further fragments the territory and very much undermines the economy and prospects for improvement in the Palestinian situation."

Israel says this can change with peace. Regarding settlements, checkpoints, the West Bank barrier, it insists what goes up, can come down. But Palestinians focus on what they call facts on the ground. They're not optimistic.


In the absence of a peace deal, international agreements require Israel to freeze settlement construction.

Yet, during the Bush administration the settler population grew considerably.

Barack Obama says he wants to pursue peace here "aggressively". But his secretary of state will have to tackle the settler issue with actions, not just words, to really make a difference. 919832.stm

Notice that the three high-schoolers pay lip service to a peace agreement they then dismiss as impossible and stress instead an existential ethnic-religious conflict.  This flies in the face of the preparedness of a majority of Palestinians who express willingness to embrace two states and an international community ready and willing to back up the stability and security of both states.  "It's not about land," they argue, but their doomsday fantasy serves to justify more land seizures and settlement expansion.  This is what must be confronted.

by Strummerson 2009-06-02 08:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements, settlements, settlements, WTF!

Thanks for giving the settlements issue a human face.

For most Americans, I suspect that "settlements" is an abstract term, giving the innocuous impression of a bunch of tents surrounding a campfire, or a few logcabins constructed together in the wilderness. Very romantic but very wrong.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 09:14AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements, settlements, settlements, WTF!

A powerful article, Strum.  Thanks.

Here is a working link.  It is from March 3, 2009. 919832.stm

by YuedoTiko 2009-06-02 09:59AM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements, settlements, settlements, WTF!

Thanks for fixing the link.  It's an excellent piece indeed.  Are you familiar with Shehadeh's work?  I've read nothing by him, but would be interested.  Wondering if his attunement to the environment travesties that the settlements produce can get some greens more actively on board.

by Strummerson 2009-06-02 10:04AM | 0 recs
by YuedoTiko 2009-06-03 05:18AM | 0 recs
Is any of this new

No. It is quite well established that the occupation of the West Bank and settlements have been made in such a way that most of the arable land is acquired by the Jewish settlers living the scraps to Palestinians. The promise of a viable Palestinian state was just that...a hollow promise. As can be seen that West Bank as it is not cannot stand as an independent state, instead what will happen is the land occupied by settlers will be annexed to Israel, the two state solution will die on paper and for all intents and purposes Israel will become an apartheid nation. That is the reality. I have come to accept that for all the lofty promises of each successive administration NOTHING worthwhile will happen to further an independent Palestinian state.

by tarheel74 2009-06-02 09:54AM | 0 recs
Re: Is any of this new

This certainly seems a likely outcome.  But I think we need to give the Obama-Clinton-Mitchell team a little time to demonstrate whether they have the resolve to try and break this pattern and to influence the situation.  There are mixed signs, but better than we have ever seen.  

In the mean time, I'll pose the question I often pose to MS: Do you really think that given the demographics of the situation and the evolving interest of the international community (including significant numbers of Jews and Israelis) in the plight of the Palestinians that permanent and formalized apartheid will prove sustainable?  If it couldn't hold in South Africa, why would it hold here?  Do you think Palestinians will eventually just give up and give in?

I don't.  Nor do many Israelis.  Some of the latter recognize that this will prove politically and economically untenable and others also see it as morally unacceptable.  Such an outcome as you describe will move the conflict to a new phase and many think will ultimately prove the undoing of political Zionism as such.

So, if this is what you see happening, what next?  

by Strummerson 2009-06-02 10:01AM | 0 recs
Re: Is any of this new

If Obama buys into the Alon Plan and believes that it is also too late, and agrees to give 50% of the West Bank to Israel, then we will be deep into Apartheid by another name. But as far as I can tell, the settlement freeze is just step one. The only possible revision to the Arab League plan the US has now adopted is for refugees, or at most of them to emigrate to the new Palestine. But where can they go?

Step two then is the evacuation of nost of the settlements in the West Bank, unless Queieri's solution, to allow Jewish settlers who wish to remain to become citizens of Palestine, becomes feasible. Enter Bishop Tutu.

But a Palestine there must be lest Obama becomes mired in another eight years of Clinton or Bush status quo jogging in place failure: more years of conflict.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 11:51AM | 0 recs
Re: Is any of this new

I'm of course on board with all of this.  From what I have read, the Arab League proposal actually does not require emendation with regard to refugees.  My understanding is that it is purposely vague, calling for a "just solution" not the language of the "right of return."  Perhaps you have read something else.  Nonetheless, I think a workable solution may be had here if there is enough will.  It's quite well known that only a small percentage would actually elect to return to Israel.  Many would accept some form of monetary compensation and either remain where they are or return to the Palestinian state.

Removal of settlements, undoing the judaization (or de-arabization) of East Jerusalem, and a workable arrangement with regard to water will present far greater obstacles and require more will and/or creativity.

by Strummerson 2009-06-02 12:33PM | 0 recs

what can Obama/Clinton/Mitchell really do about the fundamentals?  It seems to me they are stuck between the Scylla of Israeli intransigence and the Charybdis of domestic US politics.  What could get Israel to really freeze settlements and get serious about negotiations?  I would think it would have to be pretty drastic and as such would be loudly opposed domestically.  Even now you have members of Congress like Wiener whining that the administration is being unfair to Israel on settlements.

Not to mention that the Palestinian leadership situation is a complete mess, to put it mildly.  Would negotiations be three-way with both Fatah and Hamas at the table?

by JJE 2009-06-02 06:39PM | 0 recs
Re: But

Freezing settlements is just a foot in the door. Withdrawing them in accordance with the Arab League plan which Obama subscribes to is making the sale, unless some other arrangement will permit a Palestinian border near the green line, and total relinquishment of the Jordan Valley.

The Palestinians need to get to their 22% or it will not be a deal. Some have said that the phony Clinton/Taba 97% offer (that never was) would now make for a suitable arrangement.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 07:33PM | 0 recs

but my point is that I don't think Obama can exert enough pressure for Israel to do what needs to be done without taking a political hit domestically that he will find unacceptable.

The broad outlines of what steps must be taken to actually achieve a 2-state solution are fairly obvious but I think the likelihood that any American president, including Obama, will have the will and tolerance for political risk to exert enough pressure on Israel to take those steps is very slim.

by JJE 2009-06-02 08:50PM | 0 recs
Re: Sure

REsolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seems to be the keystone to Obama's Middle East policy of engaging the Arab and Muslim countries. That is a bigger stake than assuaging the nationalist/colonial focus of tiny Israel.

The right wing Republicans and religious extremists who support them have spent the last eight years, or at least the years since 9/11, pumping up the idea that the West (read Christianity) is in a major conflict with Islam, which has a jihad against its superpower representative, the United States.

It's a fabricated conflict.

by MainStreet 2009-06-03 05:04AM | 0 recs
Re: Sure

Several analysts, Israeli and international, have argued in recent days that Obama's strategy includes pushing Bibi's government in the direction of collapse, whether to be replaced by a Kadima-Labor-MERETZ coalition or new elections.

The fact is we really have no idea how either the Israeli or the Palestinian electorates will respond to an American administration that is less tolerant of Israeli duplicity (negotiating while expanding settlements) and serious about a two state final status.  Thomas Friedman, whom I generally despise, has a column in this morning's NYT, based on an interview with the Pres., underscoring how Obama sees tolerance for duplicity on all sides as a major impediment to resolving this unsustainable trajectory.

If Palestinian support for HAMAS owes a great deal to protest votes, something I think incontrovertible, they are votes against both FATAH corruption and American enabling of Israel's games that engender despair.  Changing this dynamic may allow Palestinian voters to express the realism that opinion polls reveal as genuine and widespread on their ballots.  HAMAS may try to obstruct this shift or it may embrace it more wholeheartedly, as some elements have shown interest in doing.  But it's hard to imagine that this will have no effect, unless one buys into the caricature that Palestinians are conniving bloodthirsty anti-Semites, which anyone who cares to actually learn about Palestinian politics and culture will see as an extravagant paranoid exaggeration at best and a cynical canard at worst.

What I think more difficult to predict is how Israelis, both voters and politicians, will respond to a US President who is more interested in results than interminable bullshit.  They may become more entrenched, or this change it may empower realists there as well.

The next few weeks/months should be instructive on both accounts.

by Strummerson 2009-06-03 05:25AM | 0 recs
Jordan River Valley

Notice how the entire Jordan River Valley has been ethnically cleansed, preventing the West Bank from having borders with any country other than Israel.  

The long term plan here is pretty obvious, taking as much of the West Bank as possible, and forcing the Palestinians into "indian reserves/South African-type homelands" where they would be denied their own government, and denied citizenship in Israel.  Like now.

by Winston Smith 2009-06-02 12:58PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

That outcome is everyone's fear: Apartheid.

More than anything else, as far as the West Bank is concerned, if Obama cannot wrest the Jordan Valley from Israeli hands, a sovereign Palestinian state with its own borders will never come into being. The Obama peace initiative will have been a sham. And Jimmy Carter's fear will have been realized.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 01:34PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

War against the settlers seems to be the only solution then, and no one can expect the Israeli government to do that. If that happens the only thing we can do then is end all aid to Israel, every last penny.

We might not have the responsibility to roll it back, but we do have one not to enable it.

by MNPundit 2009-06-02 04:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

I'll admit that when having a long look at this map of the West Bank one feels ones heart sink at the daunting prospect of resolving the settlement issue.

There is another solution.  Why not offer, as a condition of settlement, dual Israeli-Palestanian citizenship to any Israel settler family which refuses other inducements and chooses to stay?  That leaves the choice to them, alleviates the highly charged issue of forced vacation and could reasonably leave the new Palestine with a multi-cultural ethnography which might be helpful to both nations.

The Palestinians, conversely, would need to accept these new citizens as part of their political and cultural heritage.  There has been a long history of Jewish and Muslim coexistence in the Mandate.  It would stretch the tolerance of all concerned, to be sure, but as 'unworkable' goes nothing seems to top the current situation and I just don't see Israel finding the will to displace these settlers by main force.

Strummerson pointed out to me that Ahmend Qureia, the former Palestinians PM and chief negotiator, suggested something similar in a recent interview:

Do you believe Israel would agree to evacuate Ma'aleh Adumim's 35,000 residents?

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. Israeli settlements in the heart of the territories would be a recipe for problems. Israel evacuated all the settlements in Yamit and in the Gaza Strip. All the prime ministers who negotiated with Syria, including Netanyahu, agreed to evacuate all the settlements from [the Golan] Heights. So why is it so difficult for you to evacuate the settlements in the West Bank?

Akiva Eldar - PA: Settlers can Become Palestinian Citizens 27 May 09

As an 'outside the box' solution it seems to have some merit.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-02 05:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

Yes, Ahmend Qureia offered an excellant solution. There are afterall Palestinians living in Israel, and with time, the restrictive laws on them will be withdrawn.

In the end there must be enough land to accomodate most of the refugees. Some will want to return to Israel, but that should not be a problem since they are a minority. The results cannot be what exists in Gaza where you have 1.5 million Palestinians living in the most densely populated region in the world. Gaza is only 6% of the Palestinian territories, half of the population being refugees from the 48 ethnic cleansing.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 06:01PM | 0 recs
for the sake of intellectual honesty...

the most densily populated country in the world is monaco with 16,905(Pop per km2) followed by singapore with 6,814(Pop per km2) - the palestinian territories are bit down the list at #12 with 667 (Pop per km2) an is sandwiched between china and jersey.

by canadian gal 2009-06-02 06:19PM | 0 recs
he was talking about Gaza only

I believe.

by JJE 2009-06-02 06:32PM | 0 recs
Re: for the sake of intellectual honesty...


by MainStreet 2009-06-02 07:34PM | 0 recs
Re: for the sake of intellectual honesty...

I'm curious to see the list, because I want to limit it to non-city states.  Like I'm sure if Mexico City were to become its own country, it would straight to the top of the list, but it's a city, not a country.

I googled "densely populated on earth" but I got lists of countries only.  So I put "gaza" in, and BAM all these CAMERA and MEMRI links popped up.  Or places like TPM, which I thought would be neutral, but it always turned out to be just an angry post from someone.

I did not - do not want to wade through all of that.  And your link only has "Palestinian territories" - right between China and New Jersey - but that includes the West Bank.

Can you link me to someplace neutral where I can see where Gaza fits in?  For the sake of an apples-to-apples comparison and my own curiosity, I'd like to filter out cities.

by Jess81 2009-06-02 09:43PM | 0 recs
Re: for the sake of intellectual honesty...

well im not sure how one would compare apples to apples none of the sources i have seen break down variables in that way.

the sources i have found are "neutral" and are:

cities; gest-cities-density-125.html

countries: /the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html ntries_by_population_density


by canadian gal 2009-06-02 10:00PM | 0 recs

i just realized i didn't put gaza in there since that's your reference point.

the three sources i got from gaza - all different - all either neutral or pro-palestinian are:

Gaza Strip CIA projection
4,270 people/sq km
(1,537,269 population July 2008, 360 sq km)

Gaza Strip George Galloway
4,167 people/sq km
(1.5 million people, 360 sq km)

Gaza Strip Daoud Kuttab
3,822 people/sq km

hope that helps.

by canadian gal 2009-06-02 10:11PM | 0 recs
Re: oopsy.


I don't know why its density is such a contested issue.  The data point doesn't mean much by itself.  But I was curious.

by Jess81 2009-06-02 11:36PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

I tend to agree, and as a way of calling the bluff of the hard-line settlers while minimising armed confrontations it seems to have a certain elegance to it.  The 'right of return' needs to be dropped or ameliorated, however, and there is still the intractable problem of the disposition of Jerusalem.  Israelis and Palestinians seem diametrically opposed on the Holy City, and I haven't heard of any sensible compromises beyond the Solomonic dividing of the city which seems to have an appropriate parabolic legitimacy but is rejected by Israel.  And the king said, "Bring me a sword."

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-02 06:19PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

There are 5 million Palestinians living in refugee camps in a number of Arab countries as a consequence of the ethnic cleansing of 1948, where they are not considered citizens. They are Palestinians.

Are they to continue living as refugees, lost or ignored? Palestinians should live in Palestine. But where is Palestine?

I mentioned before that only 10% of Palestinians in the refugee camps would elected to return to their former villages in Israel, that is, if they can find them. No matter. Give them a chance to assert their birthright to be a Palestinian in a land that their forefathers cultivated for over a thousand years.

by MainStreet 2009-06-02 07:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

So you're suggesting that 'right of return' needs to be on the table but ameliorated with some kind of threshold limits?

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-02 07:42PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

Right of return probably will be altered in some way, but there is no way that the Palestinian leadership can throw them under the bus, so to speak in order to get a peace agreement. Afterall, this conflict did begin with that ethnic cleansing, the Nakba of 48, and it will be essential to provide a remedy for it if a final peace is ever to be attained.

by MainStreet 2009-06-03 05:10AM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

Any thoughts on how if might be 'altered?'  Sounds to me like the US is trying to get the Arab League to drop that condition.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-03 12:47PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

Israel accepts 10%? That's the polled percentage that would elect to return to their former homes and villages in original Palestine. Adding incentives might reduce that. But most would likely move to "Palestine," or possibly, another country like the US if allowed to do so. Even though the UN and the US probably did not expect Israel to engage in the 1948 ethnic cleansing, we helped create this situation, so why not pitch in to help reverse it.

by MainStreet 2009-06-03 03:08PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

Interesting thought.  I wonder how the Palestinian Authority would manage the process of selection.  Has anyone ever suggested that there may be Israelis who would prefer to live in the West Bank after a settlement?  As I mentioned above the hard-line settlers would be my first choice for likely candidates.

Do you know of any references to formal proposals along the lines of the 10% you mention?  10% of five million is roughly the same population as that of current Israeli settlers in disputed territory, I wonder if that coincidence could be helpful in some way.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-03 03:41PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

No references I know of. I am also unable to find the survey I referred to, indicating the 10% figure. Half a million added to Israel's current Palestinian population would likely increase their percentage to 25% of Israel's total population. Queriri recently indicated that Israeli settlers could stay if they agreed to certain political conditions.

That's all I know about this aspect of any two states solution.

by MainStreet 2009-06-03 04:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

Thanks, it certainly makes for an interesting discussion.  I wonder when these issues will actually be addressed by the negotiating parties, there seems to be quite a bit of pressure on Israel right at the moment.  It almost seems like Obama is pushing Netanyahu as far as he possibly can.  I tend to agree that it is up to Israel to make some kind of concession to get the process underway, it's their move.  The speech tomorrow in Cairo can only increase that pressure, I'm guessing.

I can't think of anything more the Obama administration could do at this point without eroding domestic support for his agenda.

by Shaun Appleby 2009-06-03 04:43PM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

The Israeli colonialism is now transparent and is cearly anti-peace and the palpable cause of strife in the Middle East. Censorship and propaganda is no longer creating the blind that Israel has been using to convince Americans that it is only interested in peace.

I don't see any backlash coming from more pressure on Israel to stop the bullcrap and begin obeying international law.

by MainStreet 2009-06-04 03:11AM | 0 recs

you were referring to gaza it clearly is higher than than when one includes the west bank. but still... no.

5,100 people/sq km

Tel Aviv metro area including suburbs
5,050 people/sq km
(2.3 million people, 453 sq km)

4,900 people/sq km

4,750 people/sq km

4,300 people/sq km

Gaza Strip
4,167 people/sq km
(1.5 million people, 360 sq km)

you can also throw hundreds of more cities in there like manhattan, newark and they still have higher densities.

by canadian gal 2009-06-02 07:06PM | 0 recs
Re: if...

A ha!  That actually answers my previous post - sorry, I didn't see it.

Except for Gaza, they're all cities.

by Jess81 2009-06-02 09:45PM | 0 recs
Re: if...

Doesn't make sense to compare a territory which is insulated from the rest and the world and a city. The couch on which I'm sitting right now is more densely populated than Manhattan. So what ?

by french imp 2009-06-02 10:15PM | 0 recs
so what?

well if  'this sofa im sitting on is one of the densely places on the earth' then what would your data be compared for accuracy and reference? other sofas?

in this case - either by city or country where census data is taken, either in population numbers or sq/km - gaza is no where close to being "the most densly place on the planet" that's my point.

by canadian gal 2009-06-02 10:27PM | 0 recs
Re: so what?

I don't really agree.

If you compare the Gaza strip with the most densely populated countries, you'll see that it comes right after Gibraltar. There are 3 more populated countries, namely Monaco, Singapour and Gibraltar.

But among those 3, Monaco and Gibraltar are just really tiny cities a few sq km2), so no wonder they are densely populated. On the other hand, Singapour is several hundred sq km2, larger in fact than the Gaza strip. So, one may indeed compare Singapour and the Gaza strip and assert that Singapour is more densely populated.

While the initial assertion that the Gaza strip was the most densely populated territory was strictly speaking incorrect, it was not far from being true. Whereas, assertion that it is 'no where close to being the most densely place on the planet' is, in my opinion, very misleading.

Back to Singapour/Gaza, it would be interesting to consider the habitable surface, which I suspect is significanty higher than the land occupation due to the existence of many vertically superposed levels... Probably, while more densely populated, Singapour is much less overcrowded.

by french imp 2009-06-02 11:00PM | 0 recs
Re: so what?

Oh, by the way one might argue that the Gaza strip is not a 'country'.

The fact is, it is a confined territory which one cannot leave or enter freely. Consequently it makes sense to compare it with a country, not with a city such as London which one may enter or leave freely, without any controls.

by french imp 2009-06-02 11:11PM | 0 recs
reductionist argument

The whole population density side conversation is really irrelevant to the key issue.  The problem is not the population density of Palestinian territory, but rather that the population is living in prison camps, denied citizenship in any country, unable to travel (no one can issue passports) or engage in commerce, dependent on international aid for survival.  

by Winston Smith 2009-06-02 11:15PM | 0 recs
Re: so what?

im getting confused with all the different variances and parsing that people keep changing and comparing to. in my opinion hanging on to a meme that is inaccurate by every measure does nothing to move this issue forward or encourage understanding.

its v. simple - gaza alone (or the whole of the occupied territories) are not the most populated:

- city

  • country
  • area

on the planet. so why do we keep discussing it as if it is?

by canadian gal 2009-06-02 11:17PM | 0 recs
Re: so what?

OK, as has been noted, it's just the largest prison in the world and, compared with other prisons, I grant you that it is certainly not the most densely populated.

by french imp 2009-06-03 01:30AM | 0 recs
Re: Jordan River Valley

I mean if it comes to the point of Apartheid, not this instant.

by MNPundit 2009-06-02 04:40PM | 0 recs
Re: Settlements, settlements, settlements, WTF!

I've been critical of Obama on many fronts (civil rights, human rights, torture prosecution/investigation, Wall St. vs. Big Three treatment in the bailout, not stopping DADT, freezing out public option on health care, the stimulus (too small, tax cuts at 40%), environment (mountaintop mining, not using ESA to regulate greenhouse gases, GHG plan terribly weak, -5% from 1990 levels when we need 40%), the list goes on and on.

But, I think the settlement freeze is a good first step. Second step is give the Palestinians their land back, or we back off the aid. Period.

by Searching For Pericles 2009-06-02 05:43PM | 0 recs


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