Israel’s Squatter Settlements on Palestinian Land Undermine its Security

Bill Van Esveld | (Human Rights Watch) –

Israel’s prime minister has set the agenda for his visit to Washington, DC: the impact on Israel’s security of the Obama administration’s approach to Iran’s nuclear program. Disagreements over Iran may dominate the headlines, but Democrats and Republicans who are concerned about Israel’s security should realize that settlements are a security problem for Israelis and Palestinians alike.

Israel typically justifies its harsh policies in the West Bank on security grounds, but since Binyamin Netanyahu took office in 2009, Israel has begun construction on more than 10,000 housing units there for Israeli civilians.

Israel assigns soldiers to protect these civilians, for whose safety it proclaims the need to build expensive special roads, walls and checkpoints. Those measures failed this summer, when Palestinian gunmen abducted and killed three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank – sparking a massive military operation.

Palestinians experience insecurity when Israel takes away their land and gives it to settlements. Israel exclusively controls more than 60 percent of the West Bank. It has allocated about 1 percent of that land for Palestinian development, but 70 percent to settlements. Israel prohibits Palestinians in that area from farming or building homes without military permits, but the military denies almost all Palestinian permit applications and demolishes “illegal” homes – leaving 5,450 people homeless during Netanyahu’s term. Meanwhile some settlers have so much farmland that they are renting some of it back to Palestinians.

Unsurprisingly, settlements are flashpoints for confrontation; many arrests of Palestinian children, often for throwing stones, occur near settlements. When Palestinians attack settlers they are subject to a military justice system that finds 99.74 percent of suspects guilty.

But when settlers attack, Israel applies domestic criminal laws, providing protections denied to Palestinians, and investigations are slapdash. The police close about 91 percent of these investigations without filing indictments. The result is that settlers, undeterred, have continued their attacks in the West Bank – destroying nearly 54,000 Palestinian olive trees since January 1, 2010.

US pressure on Israel to dismantle the settlements would help bolster, not endanger, security. It should apply such pressure in line with international law, which prohibits the transfer of civilians into occupied territory as a war crime. And it should end tax breaks for donations to US-registered organizations that support unlawful settlements.

Via Human Rights Watch

Related video added by Juan Cole:

VICE News from last month: “Settlers, Olives, and Occupation: Voices from the West Bank”

One response

  1. Israelis in their greed for land have cut their own throats.

    It is now impossible to remove the settlers, which would have to be forcibly done by the IDF or a UN force, resulting in the deaths of some of the settlers. And the settlers will not live under Palestinian rule.

    As a result, the “two-state” solution is completely dead.

    As for the non-Jews living west of the Jordan river, they are NOT going anywhere. Israel does not have enough wealth to spare for Jewish citizens (most of whom are deeply in debt with no chance of ever getting out) let alone enough wealth to “pay of” any non-Jews so they would leave the area.

    Basically, Israelis have only TWO OPTIONS left (1) attempting mass genocide, which will trigger massive war that they will lose, or (2) absorb all the non-Jews and make them full citizens of a secular (non-Jewish and non-Muslim) state.

    The result of Israeli short-sighted policies is that they will end up with a “one-state” solution, which over time will consist of a small Muslim majority and a large minority Jewish population ( probably something like 50% Muslim, 48% Jewish and 2% other). Because of basic human behavior, the minority is going to have to surrender much of their power. Minorities can not rule over majorities for very long unless they are extremely benevolent and Israelis have amply demonstrated they are incapable of being benevolent.

    In the long term, this will NOT turn out very well for the European and Russian invaders.

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