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Haaretz - Comment / Settlers can stay, but only as citizens of Palestine

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  • Paul
    Haaretz - Last update - 08:51 01/01/2010 Comment / Settlers can stay, but only as citizens of Palestine By Alexander Yakobson
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1 7:12 AM
      Haaretz -
      Last update - 08:51 01/01/2010

      Comment / Settlers can stay, but only as citizens of Palestine
      By Alexander Yakobson


      The time has come to say to the settler leaders: Okay - you've
      convinced us. It seems that a mass evacuation of settlers is an
      impractical idea. You showed us clearly that you're prepared to turn
      such a removal into a national trauma. It's doubtful that any Israeli
      politician would chance it.

      But whoever seeks to determine the country's fate with threats must know
      that the final result is likely to be disappointing. Giving up on
      evacuation doesn't mean giving up on dividing the land. Whoever concedes
      to this is giving up on Israel. In the end, the only alternative to the
      two-state solution is one state. This is usually called a "binational
      state," which is a bad joke. A binational state may exist in Belgium
      (perhaps; there, too, it barely works).

      Here in our region, in real life, "one state" would be Arab, Muslim and
      Sunni (no matter what the constitution said), and much less binational
      than Israel.
      If evacuation is not practical, the conclusion is to divide the land
      without removing settlers. Israel should formally adopt the suggestion
      by Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad: There is no need for an
      evacuation; settlers who are interested may stay where they are after an
      Israeli withdrawal and live as a Jewish minority in a Palestinian state.
      Israel will have sovereignty on one side of the border and the
      Palestinians on the other - over everyone living there. There will be no
      evacuation, and Israeli soldiers won't have to take people from their
      homes. They will simply retreat to the new border.

      Adopting this position would create an opportunity for Israel to gain a
      more comfortable border. Discussions on border corrections and
      territorial exchanges have been undertaken under pressure to keep as
      many settlers as possible within Israeli borders to reduce the size of
      an evacuation. The map offered to Palestinians by former prime minister
      Ehud Olmert shows that in the end, Israel would have a border worse than
      the Green Line: an infinite line winding like a snake, without any logic
      to it, military or otherwise.

      These corrections to the border are no good for either side. If you
      don't have to worry about decreasing the number of people evacuated,
      it's possible to draw a much more rational border; the number of
      settlers included in Israel would be much smaller in this case. Second,
      if there is no evacuation, there is no financial compensation. In our
      country, some payment will certainly be made, beyond the letter of the
      law, but we are talking about much smaller sums. The state does not have
      to compensate a person for a change in the territories' political
      status, and settlers' property rights will be insured by a peace treaty.

      Adopting this position would make things easier for Israel from a
      political point of view. Europe and America will continue to oppose
      construction in the settlements, as a violation of international law,
      but the world takes such a dim view of settlement expansion because it
      is viewed as a permanent erosion of the territory of the future
      Palestinian state, which aims to make the occupation irreversible. If
      the settlers are irrelevant to the border, they turn into a much less
      important issue.

      It is clear that the great majority of settlers does not want to live
      under a Palestinian government and would leave. If there is a sizable
      minority that prefers the commandment to settle the land over national
      sovereignty, this is a legitimate choice that should be honored. If only
      this experiment succeeds. The connection to Judea and Samaria is worthy
      of respect; what is unworthy is the attempt to rule over another nation
      (in effect, we are talking about the attempt to rule over two nations
      and determine their fates).

      And yet, it is worth asking, without doubting Fayyad's intentions, if it
      is reasonable that Palestine be the only Arab state with a significant
      Jewish community. The Jewish imagination pictures mass slaughter, but
      these are exaggerations of anti-Arab rhetoric.

      The Arab world emptied of Jews without such dramas and in most cases
      without government decisions, and still Jewish life became impossible
      there. It is more reasonable to assume that virtually all the settlers
      will find themselves on the Israeli side of the border. But after all,
      that's what the Law of Return is for
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