On dealing with Hamas and settlers

On dealing with Hamas and settlers

NY Times columnist Roger Cohen is certainly right about the “Fierce Urgency of Peace” in the Middle East. And his endorsement of the so-called “Bipartisan Statement” by veteran establishment “wisemen” — e.g., Henry Siegman, Brent Scowcroft, Paul Volcker and others in this regard — is generally correct, but I also see problems.

There is an obvious need for a two-state solution, including an end to Jewish settlement expansion in the territories, an arrangement for two national capitals in Jerusalem and a solution for Palestinian refugees that does not involve an unrestricted right of return to Israel. And yes, the US should be involved in organizing and/or leading an international force to insure such a peace.

One problem is in insisting that Hamas is an essential party to peace. While it is only pragmatic that Hamas is lured into the peace process with a role in a Palestinian coalition government, movement toward peace should not be held hostage to Hamas doing the right thing. Hamas should be offered a voice and perhaps a role, but not a veto, because we cannot know in advance that substantial elements of Hamas will actually play a positive role, even if offered.

Another difficulty is that even though many settlements (if not most) should be removed from the West Bank, it is not realistic to believe that Israel can actually remove most of the 300,000 to 400,000 settlers (depending upon how you count them). Israel mobilized 50,000 soldiers and police to remove a mere 8,000 settlers and 7,000 militant supporters from Gaza in 2005. It simply does not have the manpower to remove hundreds of thousands.

But a carrot and a stick may do the trick for moving tens of thousands. A carrot could be in the form of buying the properties of settlers so they can return to sovereign Israel (as with the “One Home” plan of the former Meretz and Labor MKs Avshalom Vilan and Colette Avital). A stick might be in the form of an Israeli announcement that as of a date certain, the IDF will no longer guarantee the security of settlements within certain areas, perhaps suggesting that they will be under Palestinian security jurisdiction.

By | 2009-03-29T15:41:00-04:00 March 29th, 2009|Blog|4 Comments


  1. YMedad March 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm - Reply

    a) the One Home effort with all the talk and PR garnered one family, I think, the same guy that keeps appearing with Abu Vilan, one Benny Raz. And he probably gets remuneration for his efforts.

    b) as for security, take into consideration that it might very well be that the local Arab population could be in equal danger – if the IDF leaves and the PA forces attempt to renew terror. your suggestion is just a recipe for general anarchy and mutual killings of a communal war. i think that happened on a different scale in 1947-48. you really want that?

  2. Ralph Seliger March 29, 2009 at 10:15 pm - Reply

    In response to Yisrael Medad: The prospect of violence, even anarchy, if the IDF removes its security cover from West Bank settlements is real. I raise the notion that the IDF may withdraw some day from far-flung settlements (as opposed to the “blocs” near the pre-’67 lines) as a realistic possiblity, given that Israel is a small country that has over-extended itself, and may one day decide that its occupation can no longer be sustained.

    This situation may be mitigated by two factors, neither of which would be viewed by settlers as rock solid guarantees: 1) Protection by an international force 2) The good will of a new Palestinian gov’t. that may agree to allow some Israelis to remain in their territory either as Palestinian citizens or as resident aliens.

    “One Home” has not yet succeeded in obtaining the gov’t. funding it seeks to help the 40,000 or more settlers who have expressed an interest in returning to Green Line Israel.

  3. Anonymous March 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm - Reply

    Shame on you, Yisrael Medad. First, for casting aspersions on Benny Raz – “and he probably gets remuneration for his efforts”. This is libelous! But as they say in Hebrew, “the hat burns on the robber’s head”: Your settler community has been undemocratically siphoning from Israel’s public coffers for decades, through cheap mortgages and tax breaks, preferential fiscal spending and more.

    As for general anarchy: This warning comes from a man who seeks to upend the already shaky status quo on the Temple Mount/Haram el-Sharif by promoting Jewish rights there at the expense of Muslim rights. So please no false concern about the public order.

    If you had simply written that you recognize no rights in Israel/Palestine except Jewish rights, you would have met with fierce opposition in this blog, but at least you would have presented an honest exposition of your gameplan.


  4. YMedad March 30, 2009 at 7:43 pm - Reply

    Libelous? Why? Getting paid for working is not libelous? I, on the other hand, to be clear, do not get remunerated for my information/hasbara work.

    Undemocratically? Why? The (our) governments have made it their policy to support us ever since Eshkol agreed to the reestablishment of Gush Etzion and Merom HaGolan.

    Expense of Muslim rights? What rights? The right to deny a Jew the right to worship there which is a right guaranteed by Israel law? The right to destroy all Jewish artifacts of history? The right to prevent any scientific archeological dig there? Please, hold to opinion but get your facts right.

    And as for “recognize no rights in Israel/Palestine except Jewish rights” – this is a lie. I do recognize Arab rights in the Jewish state of Israel and as I am a Jabotinskyite, my approach is probably more liberal than most lefty peaceniks I know. I just don’t recognize superior Arab rights to Jews.

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