By Baruch Gordon, INN
A leading scholar who once was solidly against a Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria now says a two-state solution is a falsehood. “Settlements are here to stay.”
For decades, former Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti was a leading scholar in Israel’s pro-Arab camp, working diligently to curtail development of Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria.
He founded the West Bank Database Project in 1984 which documented social, economic, and political developments in the region, and reported on growth of the Jewish towns to Western powers which sought to halt the influx of Jews to their ancient towns.
In an interview last week, Benvenisti told Haaretz that a division of the land into a two-state solution is not practical and that the settlements are irreversible.
His comments demonstrate a growing trend among Israeli opponents of the Jewish return to Judea and Samaria. Many of the very same leaders of the struggle for “Palestinian Statehood” now recognize that it is too late – the Jewish towns of Yesha cannot be uprooted.
“Today, we are talking about 350,000 settlers. If you take into account (the Jewish neighborhoods of eastern) Jerusalem, then there are 550,000 settlers,” he said. ”Therefore, everyone understands now what I said 30 years ago: it’s irreversible. Nothing will help Ehud Barak, Ehud Olmert or Tzipi Livni – it’s irreversible. You can’t get out of this mess.
“I am not offering solutions. It’s not my job. I am coming to say that today’s dominant paradigm [of a 2-State solution] is a falsehood, and I am fighting it. If you try and force an unjust division, you will get a crippled, hurt and upset Palestinian State, which will turn to violence.
“Regarding this scenario, Israel’s Right is correct. Look what happened in Gaza. The Disengagement [from Gaza in 2005] didn’t solve anything and put Hamas in power. Therefore, division is not a solution to the problem, but rather an escalation of the problem… At one time, it would have been possible to divide the land, but not today.”
Benvenisti added, “The time has come for you and your friends in Tel Aviv to understand – you cannot divide the land of Israel. It’s impossible. You can’t tell the Arabs to forget about Jaffa (Yafo) and Akko (Acre). They won’t forget. No Palestinian will commit to signing an end to the conflict. They won’t sign.”
He called the 1949 Temporary Armistice Lines, now known as the Green Line, “the left’s great alibi [that] no longer exists. The Green Line is dead… Dividing the land is apartheid. The people in Tel Aviv don’t want to understand this, but the Land of Israel is a united, geopolitical unit. Therefore, a division of the land is impossible from geographical, physical, and mental standpoints.”
His comments suggest a dramatic turning point. While world headlines continue to highlight possible breakthroughs in negotiations towards a two-state solution, Israel’s intellectual elite is gradually recognizing that Palestinian Statehood is no longer a viable option.
Yossi Sarid, former head of the Meretz Party, also recently admitted that the Jewish towns of Yesha are here to stay.