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West Bank - Israelis Mull Leaving Settlers Behind Under Palestinian Rule

Published on: November 5, 2010 08:42 AM
By: AP
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FILE - In this June 2, 2010 file photo masked Jewish settlers walk during clashes with Palestinians, not seen, outside of the West Bank village of Asira Qibliya and the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus.FILE - In this June 2, 2010 file photo masked Jewish settlers walk during clashes with Palestinians, not seen, outside of the West Bank village of Asira Qibliya and the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus.

West Bank - It has become an article of faith in the Israeli-Palestinian equation: Israel’s withdrawal from occupied lands must be accompanied by a removal of Jewish settlers.

But perhaps there’s another option.

Although it’s hardly mainstream thinking, voices on both sides are quietly contemplating an alternative: Perhaps some Jews can live in a future Palestine, even if only in small numbers, the way Arabs live in Israel.

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That would reduce Israel’s challenge, perhaps avoiding possible violent settler resistance. It would also absolve the Palestinians of an uncomfortable charge sometimes levelled at them using a Nazi term — that they want a state that is “judenrein,” or “free of Jews.”

By “allowing those Israelis who always claim to love the land more than the state to live out their dreams ... you have the chance to defang one of the most difficult issues (among many) and set a solid foundation for a just, robust, free and democratic Palestine,” said Akram Baker, an independent Palestinian analyst.

The problem, of course, is that most settlers have no desire to live under Palestinian rule — and in fact moved to the West Bank to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state. Others are radicals who could well prove problem citizens.

The antipathy is generally mutual: Palestinians tend to think that the settlers’ presence there is a violation of international agreements against colonizing occupied land. They are widely hated, and it is easily conceivable that they might suffer discrimination and even vigilante violence without protection of the Israeli military.

Still, proponents argue that out-of-the-box notions — on settlers and on other issues — are what is needed to nudge the current peace effort, which started in September but stalled over settlement construction, past a finish line that has eluded peacemakers during two fitful decades of negotiations.

A leading advocate, Rabbi Menachem Froman of the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, notes that improbable though the idea of Jewish citizens of Palestine might seem, the removal of all 300,000 settlers from the West Bank is equally difficult to imagine.

“What gets peace stuck? (The notion that) wherever there is a Jew, you can’t have a Palestinian state. So you have to evacuate the Jews, like you did in Gaza,” said Froman, referring to the forcible 2005 removal of 8,500 settlers from the seaside strip — an event remembered as something of a national trauma in Israel.

He acknowledged the notion of leaving settlers in a future Palestine resonates “very weakly” among Israeli politicians. “So this is where it’s stalled,” he said.

Mainstream settler leaders don’t even consider the possibility of keeping settlers under Palestinian rule.

Dani Dayan, chairman of the settler umbrella group Yesha Council, called it a “preposterous, insane idea” that would endanger Israeli citizens.

“Israel has a responsibility to maintain all the communities it established under Israeli sovereignty, even in the event of a deal,” Dayan said.

The West Bank carries much more weight for Israelis than Gaza did, so beyond the challenge of sheer numbers, evacuating the territory would be a much more fraught endeavour.

Observant Jews believe God gave the West Bank, home to the holy cities of Bethlehem and Hebron, to the Jewish people as part of the Land of Israel. Hawkish Israelis see continued control of the territory as integral to Israel’s security because the West Bank borders Israel’s Tel Aviv heartland.

In previous rounds of peace talks, Israel and the Palestinians have discussed swapping land close to Jerusalem, where most settlers live, for an equal amount of Israeli territory.

But even under this scenario, some 75,000 settlers would have to be evacuated. The anti-settlement watchdog group Peace Now estimates that more than 2,000 are fervently ideological — raising the possibility of violent clashes.

Yossi Beilin, a former Israeli peace negotiator, said he does not remember the proposal ever coming up in formal negotiations, but that he and Mahmoud Abbas — years before he became Palestinian president — suggested it in an unofficial peace proposal they crafted in 1995.

Under their proposal, settlers would remain in the West Bank under Palestinian sovereignty — but in communities that would be open to Palestinians as well.

Settlers rejected the notion outright at the time. Now, says Beilin, he hears it brought up more often in settler circles.

“It’s not a central issue,” Beilin said. “But it’s right to talk about it because ... it could be a real solution to one of the big problems facing governments, what to do with the settlers.”

U.S.-based Palestinian commentator Ray Hanania sees allowing settlers to live in a future Palestine as part of a broader solution of competing claims to land.

Palestinians insist on repatriating Palestinian refugees who were driven from or fled homes in what is now Israel during the war surrounding the Jewish state’s 1948 creation, as well as their millions of descendants.

“I think the trade-off is that Israel take some refugees back as part of an effort to end the conflict and to establish confidence-building,” Hanania said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not publicly stated an opinion on the idea.

Palestinians do not see settlements peppering their future state, “though in principle, non-Palestinians, including Israelis, would be able to live (there),” said Palestinian Authority spokesman Ghassan Khatib.

No position has yet been set on details such as numbers and whether they would be citizens, Khatib said.

Right now, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators aren’t discussing any day-after-peace scenarios, because they aren’t even sitting down to talk peace.

Palestinians have refused to talk unless Israel renews a 10-month construction moratorium in West Bank settlements that expired a month ago. Israel has resisted U.S. pressure to do so.


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Read Comments (18)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Nov 05, 2010 at 08:54 AM Anonymous Says:

Which genius came up with this whopper?

2

 Nov 05, 2010 at 09:22 AM oygevault Says:

The minute the Pals had a sliver of opportunity they would come to squish the settlers. Let us not entertain delusions.

3

 Nov 05, 2010 at 09:25 AM Anonymous Says:

Nonsense, any Jews staying would end up like the Jews in Hebron in 1929.

4

 Nov 05, 2010 at 09:35 AM Aron1 Says:

Utterly delusional idea.
Any Jew living under such an arrangement would probably have a better chance of survival jumping off the Empire State Building.

5

 Nov 05, 2010 at 09:42 AM lakewooder Says:

The holiness of Eretz Yisroel is not dependent on who is the government there. If they truly believe in Yishuv Ha'aretz and the Torah's Mitzvah instead of nationalism, why should this bother them? Of course there is the security issue, but the settlers seem to believe that Yishuv Ha'aretz is worth some risks. Living under the Palestinians should be a perfect solution. Hey, maybe we can use a one-state solution with just a Palestinian state, and the jews will just live under the Palestinian, like they lived under the Turks.
Just a thought.

6

 Nov 05, 2010 at 10:12 AM festayid Says:

Reply to #5  
lakewooder Says:

The holiness of Eretz Yisroel is not dependent on who is the government there. If they truly believe in Yishuv Ha'aretz and the Torah's Mitzvah instead of nationalism, why should this bother them? Of course there is the security issue, but the settlers seem to believe that Yishuv Ha'aretz is worth some risks. Living under the Palestinians should be a perfect solution. Hey, maybe we can use a one-state solution with just a Palestinian state, and the jews will just live under the Palestinian, like they lived under the Turks.
Just a thought.

Lakewooder I see you haven't left lakewood in a while spend one day on a settlement and you will change your crazy notions

7

 Nov 05, 2010 at 10:28 AM Anonymous Says:

Its not a remote possibility, its reality. If the settlers want to remain in some areas, they might as well get used to doing so as citizens of a new Palestinian state. For all the screaming and shouting even the right wing factions have quietly acknowledged some settlements will be located behind the new border and will either have to be evacuated like Gush Katif or the hard-core settlers will have to reconcile to arab control. That is reality and won't change. All the rhetoric about "keeping every last inch of land" and "all of Judea and Samaria belongs to Yidden" will give way to political reality in a final settlement. Its a shame that responsible leaders in EY don't speak the truth now and try to cover up the inevitable.

8

 Nov 05, 2010 at 10:48 AM KACH613 Says:

If the Israeli government wants to leave, let them!! There are plenty of Jews in the IDF and around the world that will help protect what will be the only real Jewish Torah state, The State Of Judah. They will know how to deal with terrorist.

9

 Nov 05, 2010 at 11:09 AM Anonymous Says:

The Jews living in a new palestinian state would end up like the xristian forced out or convert. It just goes to show how anti-semitic the plo that they don't want any Jews there but america, england, france, holland, sweden, Israel ald every other country needs to have open arms for them

10

 Nov 05, 2010 at 11:13 AM WithG-dsHelp Says:

Reply to #5  
lakewooder Says:

The holiness of Eretz Yisroel is not dependent on who is the government there. If they truly believe in Yishuv Ha'aretz and the Torah's Mitzvah instead of nationalism, why should this bother them? Of course there is the security issue, but the settlers seem to believe that Yishuv Ha'aretz is worth some risks. Living under the Palestinians should be a perfect solution. Hey, maybe we can use a one-state solution with just a Palestinian state, and the jews will just live under the Palestinian, like they lived under the Turks.
Just a thought.

if i take all your money youll have less problems you should be ashamed of yourself

11

 Nov 05, 2010 at 11:22 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #8  
KACH613 Says:

If the Israeli government wants to leave, let them!! There are plenty of Jews in the IDF and around the world that will help protect what will be the only real Jewish Torah state, The State Of Judah. They will know how to deal with terrorist.

To Kach 613

Clearly you live in your own fantasy world. If these settlements are located in areas formally ceded by Israel in a peace agreement with the PA, there will be no "State of Judah" or whatever you want to call it to protect. No IDF soldiers will be allowed to enter the territory of a Palestinian state just as they cannot enter Egypt or Jordan without permission. Keep up with your rants but you would be more productive if you accepted reality and started thinking about how to assist these settlers to relocate into areas that will be retained as part of Israel. Its funny listening to you guys in denial of what is about to happen. Think about helping these settlers rather than leaving them to fend for themselves like the poor survivors of Gush Katif.

12

 Nov 05, 2010 at 11:29 AM Anonymous Says:

This option makes sense; when the IDF came to evict the Gaza settlers in 2005, the tapes of fights of Jew against Jew were shown all over the world. This time, the tapes will show the Palestinian authorities fighting the Jews. Let the world see how "tolerant" the Palestinians are to the Jews. The Israeli Government should warn the settlers that they have 180 days to leave the disputed areas. After that time period, they can remain there, at their own risk.

13

 Nov 05, 2010 at 12:29 PM charliehall Says:

The existence of Jews living safely as citizens of Palestine will be the thing that proves that the Palestinians truly want peace.

If that ever happens.

14

 Nov 05, 2010 at 01:46 PM Liepa Says:

The real question is can the State of Israel live with the status quo.
Can the State of Israel continue living indefinitely in a state of war with the Palestinians.
Will uprooting 300,000 people bring peace finally or will it merely bring another Hamastan closer to Israel's borders and leave Israel more vulnerable to a panther attack from a possible combined Hamastan (Hamas & PLO) as well as Syria and Hizbollah from the North.
Where is King Solomon when you truly need his wisdom.

But truth be told, none of Israel's neighbors, specifically all of the aforementioned deserve Israel's confidence, none of them have ever lifted a finger towards a confidence building measure that would allow Israel to feel it's doing the right thing by giving back land to their sworn enemies.

So in the final analysis, by removing 300,000 Israeli citizens from the West Bank Israel will wet its enemies appetites and give them illusions of grandeur that they can 1 day push Israel into the sea with an all out combined thrust.
As bad as the current situation is for Israel, politically and otherwise, uprooting 300,000 of its people would ultimately be much worse.

15

 Nov 05, 2010 at 01:48 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #13  
charliehall Says:

The existence of Jews living safely as citizens of Palestine will be the thing that proves that the Palestinians truly want peace.

If that ever happens.

And you think that there is a possibility that the Palestinians truly want peace? Or ever will want true peace? I'm surprised at you.

16

 Nov 05, 2010 at 01:55 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #8  
KACH613 Says:

If the Israeli government wants to leave, let them!! There are plenty of Jews in the IDF and around the world that will help protect what will be the only real Jewish Torah state, The State Of Judah. They will know how to deal with terrorist.

I don't subscribe to the philosophy of Rabbi Meir Kahana, but I remember that before this Oslo Mishagass started which eventfully directly cost Rabbi Kahana and Yitzchok Rabin their lives, not to count the hundreds of Jews murdered and thousands maimed; Rabbi Kahana had then proclaimed the “State of Judaea” with the same flag having a lion instead of a Mogen Dovid. He said at that time that the minute Israel steps out of Judea and Samaria this state comes into being. That’s how it was in the times of the first Beis Hamikdosh, that there was a State of Israel and a state of Judaea only this time they would hopefully work together. I don’t think we are playing with reality here, but thought of bringing it up.

17

 Nov 05, 2010 at 02:06 PM Askupeh Says:

Reply to #16  
Askupeh Says:

I don't subscribe to the philosophy of Rabbi Meir Kahana, but I remember that before this Oslo Mishagass started which eventfully directly cost Rabbi Kahana and Yitzchok Rabin their lives, not to count the hundreds of Jews murdered and thousands maimed; Rabbi Kahana had then proclaimed the “State of Judaea” with the same flag having a lion instead of a Mogen Dovid. He said at that time that the minute Israel steps out of Judea and Samaria this state comes into being. That’s how it was in the times of the first Beis Hamikdosh, that there was a State of Israel and a state of Judaea only this time they would hopefully work together. I don’t think we are playing with reality here, but thought of bringing it up.

Correction, "eventually", not "eventfully" Chas Vesholem. The spell checker is at fault, and I am at fault for not double checking.

18

 Nov 05, 2010 at 04:51 PM Liepa Says:

Never in the history of mankind has any country even entertained the thought of uprooting 1/3 of a million of its citizens for an ambiguous piece of 'peace' that isn't worth the paper it's written on.
A united PLO and Hamas will continue reigning down missiles on the Israeli populace and it will be business as usual from Hamastan.
A smaller weakened Israel will lay vulnerable and tempting by their surrounding enemies joined by Iran, not to at least attempt to obliterate the State of Israel.

19

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