Monday, December 27, 2010

West Bank Settlement Building Complicates Future Negotiations

Following Israel’s ending its settlement construction freeze and the resultant Palestinian withdrawal from talks, West Bank settlement building is booming, complicating future negotiations:

Hagit Ofran, a settlement opponent who monitors their growth for Peace Now, said, “We can say firmly that this is the most active period in many years.” She said there were 2,000 housing units being built now and a total of 13,000 in the pipeline that did not require additional permits. In each of the past three years, about 3,000 units have been built.

…Settlement opponents…[say] that the larger the settler population, the more resources — water, roads, security — will be needed for them and the harder it will be to get Israelis to agree to a Palestinian state. Moreover, much of the new building is deep in the West Bank.

Thomas Friedman (above) refers to the possible dire consequences:

Hebrew University philosopher Moshe Halbertal [argues] that the window for a two-state solution is rapidly closing. Israel will end up permanently occupying the West Bank with its 2.5 million Palestinians. We will have a one-state solution. Israel will have inside its belly 2.5 million Palestinians without the rights of citizenship, along with 1.5 million Israeli Arabs. “Then the only question will be what will be the nature of this one state — it will either be apartheid or Lebanon,” said Halbertal. “We will be confronted by two horrors.”

In 2006, Jimmy Carter caused an uproar with his book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.” Now Friedman, hardly anti-Israel, considers the same scenario. Friedman also criticizes PA President Abbas for not accepting a two-state deal from former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and waiting nine months during the freeze to enter talks. Still, if Israelis and Palestinians ever get their political houses in order, the settlement boom may make it impossible to negotiate a two-state solution.

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