The settlements: dismantlement or deconstruction?

While I have great respect for David Matas, a fellow Canadian, and agree as a matter of law with what he articulates, he allows for a situation where Jews remain in an Arab state in Judea and Samaria to be created. Netanyahu also in his speech to AIPAC said some settlements will remain east of the agreed border. They both know this isn’t workable. Ultimately those settlements will be abandoned by the Jews.

I don’t understand what’s to be gained by his suggestions. Whatever we call them the Arabs will still want 100% of the land.

The gap that divides us cannot be bridged with semantics.

For me, the Jews have a better claim to these lands than do the Arabs. Area C has 300,000 Jews and only 10,000 Arabs. Why should we give this land away? Obama wants us to negotiate based on the ’67 lines rather than the Jordan River. Why? The ’67 lines lead to the Arabs attacking Israel both in ’67 and in 73. It is insane to expect us to go back to these lines. I am willing to give the Arabs autonomy in A and B but that’s all. I don’t care if we get a peace agreement. It will not be reliable. I don’t care if we are offerred an international force to protect us. It will be unreliable. I rely only on peace through strength. Ted Belman

by David Matas

We are constantly told that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are an obstacle to peace. I was part of a B’nai B’rith International delegation meeting with various United Nations permanent missions in New York recently. We were told at a meeting with representatives of a mission of a European Union state that with every new settlement, it is more difficult to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Every member of the Security Council, except for the United States, in February 2011 voted in favour of a resolution condemning all Israeli settlements established in occupied Palestinian territory since 1967 as illegal. Even the US ambassador Susan Rice agreed that the settlements are illegitimate, but vetoed the resolution anyways, stating that the resolution “risks hardening the positions of both sides.”

Yet, what is tendentiously labelled as ‘settlements’ are nothing other than Israeli Jews in the neighbourhood. To say that Israeli Jews cannot live in the West Bank is racist. The fact that Israeli Jews had to be evacuated for their own protection once Israel gave up control of Gaza was a testimonial to the murderous antisemitism of elements of the population of Gaza. It makes no more sense to say Israeli Jews cannot live in the West Bank than to say Israeli Arabs cannot live in Israel.

There is no international law breached by Israeli Jews living in the West Bank. The laws of war prohibit the forced transfer of nationals of an occupying power to occupied territory. No Israeli Jew, not one, has ever been forced to live in the West Bank.

Moreover, the West Bank is not territory occupied at international law. The West Bank was never called occupied territory when Jordan had control before the 1967 war. Yet, at international law, the status of the West Bank is the same since 1967 as it was before 1967, the only difference being a change in the name of state in control of the territory.

For there to be an occupation at international law, there has to be an occupying and occupied power both of which are members of the community of nations. The only conceivable occupied power for the West Bank is Jordan. Yet Jordan has renounced all claims over the West Bank.

For the February vote at the Security Council, no state made sense. It was illogical for the US to call the settlements illegitimate and then worry about the Palestinians hardening their positions. No Security Council state insists that Jews live only within certain areas of their state. Why should these states treat the West Bank differently?

The presence of the settlements is, then, not an obstacle to peace. It is rather the label ‘settlements’ and ‘occupied territory’ that are obstacles to peace. It is the labels that envenom the dispute, harden the Palestinians in their positions and drive them away from the negotiating table.

The labels ‘settlements’ and ‘occupied territory’ are elements of anti-Zionist war propaganda against the Jewish state. If we want peace, we have to avoid using the vocabulary that impels to war. Any peace treaty that would endorse this war propaganda would be inherently unstable.

To anti-Zionists, the language of settlements and occupied territory applies to all of Israel. The very phrase “occupied Palestinian territory since 1967” in the vetoed resolution implies that there is other Palestinian territory occupied before 1967.

For a Jewish Israeli state to live side by side in peace with an Arab Palestinian state, Jews must be able to live side by side in peace with Arabs. Israeli Jews have shown that they can do that in Israel. Palestinian Arabs have so far shown the exact opposite in both Gaza and the West Bank.

Objectively, there is nothing wrong with Israeli Jews living in the West Bank. The settlements are an issue only because Palestinians have made them an issue. If they drop the issue, the problem of the settlements will simply go away.

The European Union permanent mission to the UN, which the B’nai B’rith International delegation visited, got things exactly wrong. With every new reference to the vocabulary of settlements and occupied territory, it is more difficult to find a peaceful solution to the conflict.

To get to peace in the Middle East, we do not need to freeze and then dismantle the settlements. We rather have to deconstruct and then drop the settlement vocabulary.

David Matas is a world-renowned human rights expert and is senior honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada. He is based in Winnipeg and author of Aftershock: Anti-Zionism and Antisemitism.

June 11, 2011 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. Even more news from the Israel Destruction Force (IDF):

    Police raid Yitzhar settlement, Hakol Hayehudi news site

    The response, with the obvious irony pointed out:

    Samaria, Binyamin Residents Slam Yitzhar Raid

    Referring to the passing of military secrets by Anat Kam to Haaretz reporter Uri Blau, the committees said, “Aside from the attack on freedom of expression, it is amazing to see the delicate treatment given to Anat Kam and Uri Blau of the extreme left who really harmed national security, compared to the stifling of those who express rightwing opinions.”

    Some day, all the kapos will be brought to justice and receive their apt rewards.

  2. SarahSue says:

    Endless monologues are a waste of everyone’s time. Calling yourself a friend, yet describing the conflict through the lens of the muslims is destructive to Israel.”It has to stop.

    “Calling yourself a friend, yet describing the conflict through the lens of the muslims is destructive to Israel”.

    I would add, using the language of any group or ism that is inimical to Israel, should be viewed and applied in the same manner you suggest re: Muslims.

  3. The Palestinians are never asked to make concessions for peace only Israel. Since the Palestinians have not kept their previous agreements there is no reason to expect they will keep any new ones. Netenyahu told the truth when he said the reason there is no peace is because the Palestinians don’t want peace. If they did there would have have been peace long ago. What they have always wanted is the destruction of the state of Israel. They only way that Israel can negotiate is if concessions are offered to them for peace. Arafat promised to stop terrorism and it continued because he was a liar. There is no reason to believe other Palestinian leaders are not also liars. It is sad that American leaders like Obama also believe the lies.

  4. Yonatan,
    We would need to define “anti-religious”, but if you add up Meretz + most of ‘Avodah and a few of Kadima you end up with more than just 3 MKs.

  5. Jews always end up paying the price for an empty piece of paper or for no peace at all. They don’t appreciate what G-d gave them. What can one say of Jewish cowards who fled the Kotel when Arabs threw rocks down at them? That doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

    Jews unwilling to die for their holy place are not going to die for land a literal stone’s throw from them.

    Norman – I don’t know if you’re Jewish or anything else about you so I have to cover several different angles in this post. First, if you’re Jewish, do you live here? And if not, how do you have the right to say any of this? You’re not doing your part to help, you’re just pointing fingers and relaxing in the diaspora. Even if you’re not Jewish, do you really expect someone to stand their ground underneath a barrage of bricks from above? You’re not very smart then and certainly wouldn’t last to fight another day. If we were to regroup after the attack from the Temple Mount onto the Kotel, whom do you suppose we would be fighting trying to get to the Temple Mount? It would be our Brothers and Sons preventing us from going up on orders from the government, not the pali’s.

    I read this morning that the bagatz (Israeli supreme court) was going to lose 3 judges in the next 9 months, including the president of the court. We may get a bit more balance than the left wing rulings that flow from there constantly. Also I read that just a few years ago there were 20 anti-religious MK’s and that now there are 3. Things are changing, just not at the pace we want.

  6. I expect Yamit82 to point out that Israel has been acting submissively for decades. It was no different with Yamit, the Gush Katif and Jewish villages in the Shomron. It will be no different with Area C.

    Jews always end up paying the price for an empty piece of paper or for no peace at all. They don’t appreciate what G-d gave them. What can one say of Jewish cowards who fled the Kotel when Arabs threw rocks down at them? That doesn’t inspire a great deal of confidence.

    Jews unwilling to die for their holy place are not going to die for land a literal stone’s throw from them.

  7. SarahSue you are correct.

    I mentioned a few time the Arab world describe the Israelis as occupiers and the expansion of Jewish communities are as settlements.

    Their aim is if it said often enough the Israelis and the rest of the world will believe it to be so.

    The Israelis must stop paying attention to the Arab world and the anti-Semites governments.

    Like a lie, if reaped enough times others will believe it to be true.

    The Holy Land is the home of the Jews with G-d given rights and they should act accordingly.

  8. David Matas says that we need to, ‘drop the settlement vocabulary’, yet he used the word ‘settlements’ 16 times.

    Ted says, ‘The gap that divides us cannot be bridged with semantics.’

    I agree with you, Ted. However, I do have a problem with David Matas and other so-called pro-Israeli supporters that I do not think falls into semantics. It does, rather, involve using the language of Israel’s enemies when offering support of Israel.

    The called pro-Israeli supporters acknowledge that fact that the muslims have obscured the true history of Israel with lies yet they continue to repeat these lies over and over.

    The areas called Judea and Samaria were named hundreds of years ago. The Jordanians controlled this area for about twenty years. Yet their name, West Bank, is prominently used in most western articles.

    Judea and Samaria is land won in a self-defensive war, yet you would never know it when listening to western discussions of the ‘occupation’, the ‘obstacles of peace’ and international law that somehow only negates Israeli’s claim to land won in war.

    Gaza is still considered ‘occupied’ even though the only Israeli living there is being held captive.

    It has been a peeve of mine for some time that so called pro-Israeli supporters use the language of Israel’s enemies. Evelyn Gordon wrote a column in Commentary Magazine about the ‘disastrous Israeli flotilla’. Peter Wehner also supports Israel but thinks that anyone that says anything negative about muslims is a bigot, wrong and pernicious. Many are promoting the muslim idea that any muslims moved from their homes must be ‘compensated’. By the Palestinian Authority? By the PLO? No silly, by Israel. Israel must bear the brunt of relocating thousands of Israelis and thousands of muslims. Somehow this is now considered fair by supporters and opponents alike. Why? because muslims never pay for anything.

    Many columnists actually dignify the murderous terrorist actions of the muslims with the term ‘resistance’ and the actions of the Israelis as ‘occupiers’.

    The more I read these perversions of truth, history and reality the most militant I become. I have become indifferent to arguments of moral equivalence, human rights, international law and ‘obstacles to peace’. As far as I am concerned, Israel is right and the muslims, governments and the liberals are wrong. I feel no need to point out Israel’s ‘faults’ because in this context they are the victims of a great evil. Back in the day, it used to be bad form to blame the victims.

    Until Israel’s so-called supporters get their language right and stop decrying the actions of the muslims while perpetuating their misuse of language, they will be perceived by me as useless ‘friends’. Israel does not need supporters that perpetuate the problem.

    There is no area called the West Bank and has not been since 1948. There is no area called Palestine and has not been since 1948. There is no indigenous people called ‘Palestinians’ unless you support Arafat who coined the phrase. The first generation of Israelis that went to Judea and Samaria were settlers because they settled there. The second and consecutive generations are called residents. There has not been any new ‘settlements’ built in Israel for some time. There has just been new housing in existing cities for up and coming families. (How evil) The muslims are obstacles to peace not just in Israel but in the world over. There never was ‘peace talks’, just talks. In fact, there where never any talks, just monologues. The Israelis offered, the muslims rejected.

    Until people such as David Matas stop repeating the obvious, without coming to the obvious conclusion, that the muslims need to leave, then they are no help. Endless monologues are a waste of everyone’s time. Calling yourself a friend, yet describing the conflict through the lens of the muslims is destructive to Israel. It has to stop.