Saturday, April 5, 2008

Grab more hills, expand the territory

By Henry Siegman
London Review of Books

"The title of Gershom Gorenberg’s book is somewhat misleading in its suggestion that the establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza was ‘accidental’. While Gorenberg, an American-born Israeli journalist, notes that no Israeli government ever made a formal decision about the future of the West Bank, his account of the first decade of Israel’s occupation leaves no doubt that the settlements were deliberately founded, and were intended to create a permanent Israeli presence in as much of the Occupied Territories as possible (indeed, the hope was for them to cover all of the Occupied Territories, if the international community would allow it). No Israeli government has ever supported the establishment of a Palestinian state east of the 1949 armistice line that constituted the pre-1967 border. At the very least, the settlements were designed to make a return to that border impossible.......

The claim that it is only Palestinian violence and rejectionism that compelled Israel to remain in the territories is a fabrication. As I argued in the LRB (16 August 2007), the assiduously promoted story of Israel’s pursuit of peace and its search for a Palestinian ‘partner for peace’ was fashioned to buy time to establish ‘facts on the ground’: settlements that would so completely shatter the territorial and demographic contiguity and integrity of Palestinian land and life as to make the establishment of a Palestinian state impossible. In this, Israel’s leaders have succeeded so well that Olmert, who claims finally to have realised that without a two-state solution Israel will become an apartheid entity that cannot survive, has not been able to implement even the smallest of the changes he promised in Annapolis. The expansion of the settlements and of a Jews-only highway system in the West Bank continues without interruption. The price that Israel and Jews everywhere – not to speak of the Palestinian people – may yet have to pay for this ‘success’ is painful to contemplate. "

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