‘Washington Post’ editorial says settlements don’t matter

on 28 Comments

Wow, this is unbelievable. The Washington Post editorial page states that the reaction to Israel’s plans to build more settlements is overheated, that a two-state solution is alive and well, that settlements outside Jerusalem don’t block Palestinian access to a possible capital. I wonder if the writers have spent any time in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, let alone the ongoing ethnic-cleansing of Area C. Also notice the emphasis on land swaps. Do those involve removing the citizenship of Palestinian citizens of Israel? Do they want to be moved into a Palestinian state?

the reaction is also counterproductive because it reinforces two mistaken but widely held notions: that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible.

Twenty-five years ago, Israel’s government openly aimed at building West Bank settlements that would block a Palestinian state. But that policy changed following the 1993 Oslo accords. Mr. Netanyahu’s government, like several before it, has limited building almost entirely to areas that both sides expect Israel to annex through territorial swaps in an eventual settlement…

Overall, the vast majority of the nearly 500,000 settlers in Jerusalem and the West Bank live in areas close to Israel’s 1967 borders. Data compiled by the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace show that more than 80 percent of them could be included in Israel if the country annexed just more than 4 percent of the West Bank — less than the 5 percent proposed by President Bill Clinton 12 years ago.

Diplomats were most concerned by Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to allow planning and zoning — but not yet construction — in a four-mile strip of territory known as E-1 that lies between Jerusalem and Ma’ale Adumim, a settlement with a population of more than 40,000. Palestinians claim that Israeli annexation of the land would cut off their would-be capital in East Jerusalem from the West Bank and block a key north-south route between West Bank towns. Israel wants the land for similar reasons, to prevent Ma’ale Adumim — which will almost certainly be annexed to Israel in any peace deal — from being isolated. Both sides insist that the other can make do with a road corridor.

This is a difficult issue that should be settled at the negotiating table, not by fiat. But Mr. Netanyahu’s zoning approval is hardly the “almost fatal blow” to a two-state solution that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described.

The exaggerated rhetoric is offensive at a time… etc.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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28 Responses

  1. edwardm
    January 2, 2013, 6:08 pm

    Ah yes the same tired argument that Israel is magnanimously offering to annex “only” a small percentage of the west bank – that just happens to be the portions that have access to water, arable land and borders with any other country but Israel. Heard it before – it’s garbage.
    This essay sums it up nicely –

  2. Real Jew
    January 2, 2013, 6:09 pm

    “This is a difficult issue that should be settled at the negotiating table”

    I love how rightwingers, in their attempt to defend any israeli war crime, always use the excuse that its too difficult to discuss or resolve and can only be rectified by the two parties. The excerpt above is so full of discrepancies and b.s. that its not worth dissecting

  3. Les
    January 2, 2013, 6:18 pm

    I guess the Washington Post agrees with the US effort to impose a Sudetenland solution on the Palestinians. Taking a piece of someone’s else’s country can bring peace, the way it did in Europe in 1938.

  4. DICKERSON3870
    January 2, 2013, 6:35 pm

    RE: “Wow, this is unbelievable. The Washington Post editorial page states that the reaction to Israel’s plans to build more settlements is overheated, that a two-state solution is alive and well, that settlements outside Jerusalem don’t block Palestinian access to a possible capital.” ~ Weiss

    MY COMMENT: It is not so much “unbelievable” as it is yet another instance of “déjà vu all over again”! ! !

    FROM ELLIOTT ABRAMS, The Washington (Neocon) Post, 04/08/09:

    [EXCERPT] . . . Is current and recent settlement construction creating insurmountable barriers to peace? A simple test shows that it is not. Ten years ago, in the Camp David talks, Prime Minister Ehud Barak offered Yasser Arafat approximately 94 percent of the West Bank, with a land swap to make up half of the 6 percent Israel would keep. According to news reports, just three months ago, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert offered 93 percent, with a one-to-one land swap. In the end, under the January 2009 offer, Palestinians would have received an area equal to 98 to 98.5 percent of the West Bank (depending on which press report you read), while 10 years ago they were offered 97 percent. Ten years of settlement activity would have resulted in a larger area for the Palestinian state. . .

    SOURCE – http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/04/07/AR2009040703379.html

    P.S. Elliott Abrams has totally convinced me [by the sheer power of his (il)logic and his very impressive math skills] to wholeheartedly support the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank.
    As I understand it, the ‘Abrams Principle’ stands for the proposition that more Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank will result in a larger area for the Palestinian state. That’s why I say: “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead” with the settlement actvity; so as to result in the largest Palestinian state possible (from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River), no matter what that state is called. Fiat justitia! ( “Let Justice Be Done!” )

    P.P.S. ALSO SEE: “In Israel-US relations, settlements are entirely beside the point”, Yair Shamir, Times of Israel‘ 12/26/12
    LINK – http://blogs.timesofisrael.com/in-israel-us-relations-settlements-are-entirely-beside-the-point/

  5. Donald
    January 2, 2013, 6:58 pm

    “Wow, this is unbelievable. ”

    I assume that’s just a rhetorical flourish, because you have to have realized it was utterly predictable. I don’t remember if I bothered to write it down explicitly, but I knew this was the direction the Israel supporters would go.

    I don’t have any particular love for the 2SS, but it’s useful to make a distinction between those Israel supporters (like Beinart) who really do want to see it, and those who just use it as an excuse for supporting Israel no matter what they do, on the theory that all the problems will be solved by magical negotiations sometime in the distant future, after Israel has taken all the land it wants to take. People who really do support the 2SS would not react the way the Washington Post editorialists have.

  6. ToivoS
    January 2, 2013, 7:53 pm

    There is something that goes without mention by the pro-Israeli two-staters that are actively negotiating on behalf of Israel. Since 1999 there have been a number of discussions with Palestinians about how much of the WB they would be willing to concede. (Camp David, 2000, more informal talks in 2001 and then those exchanges with Olmert). Each time, those things that the Palestinians were willing to discuss were widely publicized.

    Now I notice that the base-line (according to WaPo et al) for negotiations are these theoretical concessions that were discussed previously. The Palestinians are expected to start compromising from those points. In fact the base line for any negotiations must be UN resolutions that includes the 1967 green line and the full right of return. Israel has refused to negotiate in good faith and there is no reason for the Palestinians to concede a thing before real talks.

    Of course, these are just silly academic tactical discussions since the Israelis are not going give up anything. Notice the Wa Po mentions that 80% of the settlements are right on the border of Israel proper without mentioning that leaves 100,000 settlers that would have to be moved. Fat chance of that ever happening short of a total collapse of the state of Israel.

    Every time I think about this negotiating dynamic, the more I realize how much Arafat conceded in 1992 without getting much of anything in return. And how devious the Israelis and their US supporters have been for so long.

    • seafoid
      January 3, 2013, 1:39 am

      I don’t know what else the Palestinians could have done that would have resulted in a different outcome. The path was set a long time ago. Livni admitted as much in the Palestine papers. Arafat was just a decoration from the bot pov. What the S Daniel Abraham center for the justification of Yesha and the Wapo won’t touch is the effect of the Yesha cancer on Israeli civil society. There is no stable equilibrium for zionism this side of ethnic cleansing and the total destruction of the Palestinian nation . Never trust a junkie. Don’t assume he knows what he’s doing. It may not all work out in the end.

      • Mooser
        January 5, 2013, 1:41 pm

        “It may not all work out in the end.”

        What silliness, Seafoid. You’re losing your nerve, man. Hold your mud!
        Why even the most casual survey of Jewish history should tell us to trust our Jewish leaders, and that they will work it out in the end. Why, I’m sure you can supply many examples from the past, both recent and ancient!

      • seafoid
        January 7, 2013, 5:05 pm

        The second temple was sold to a conglomerate who wanted to develop a mall. Everyone was a winner. The scribes were always against it so the story in the Book is wrong.

  7. pabelmont
    January 2, 2013, 8:47 pm

    Weiss: “I wonder if the writers have spent any time in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, let alone the ongoing ethnic-cleansing of Area C.”

    Phil, this is silly “rhetorical flourish” (thanks, Donald). The writers in MSM are generally so busy learning and regurgitating their lines (party lines) that they’d have neither time nor (of course) purpose in learning anything about the so-called facts-on-the-ground. Or the true political facts.

    As to settlements scuttling peace, well that’s plain silly. Both sides are completely intransigent on points that the other side is completely intransigent on. There is no peace to be had, and settlements do not change this. Israel wants craven capitulation and Palestine has so far refused. Amazingly! And Palestine wants a peace along the lines of UNSC 242 (pre-1967-ish borders) and that seems anathema to Israel, especially the increasingly-on-a-roll hard-liners.

    Israel did return Sinai (with removal of settlers and destruction of settlements), but it got peace with its most powerful enemy. The PLO and Hamas by contrast have at most the military power of the fleas on a few dogs.

    Now, a concerted and powerful international effort — were it to happen — to force Israel to end the occupation, remove the settlers, dismantle the settlements and wall; — well that is something else again, because Israeli intransigence is situational and Israel might well make a generous peace with Palestine in return for being allowed to keep a few big settlements (presumably near Jerusalem) — but the possibility of “keeping” only works if the continued existence of those settlements was seriously threatened by a new situation. And, today, it is not. Concerted international pressure is not even on the farthest horizon. By all appearances, climate change will flood Tel-Aviv first. (In other words, “not in my lifetime”).

    I think we should all oppose the settlements (and settlers) and wall in occupied territories ONLY because they are clearly illegal (UNSC 465 and ICJ 2004) and not because they are obstacles to peace. that would at least take away from the neocons and Ziobots the argument that settlements do not obstacle-ize “peace”.

  8. Avi_G.
    January 2, 2013, 9:05 pm

    Oh yeah. Land swaps are the magic word in all these delusional mainstream articles.

    Ahhhh the settlements are nothin’. They’re really not the problem here. If the Palestinians were willing to resolve this conflict, we could move this area over here, this town over here, this border here, that fence can be relocated here and bam, you’ve got geographic contiguity.

    “Land swaps” is like an unknown variable, a wild card, a joker. Israel can carve out as much land as it wants in the occupied West Bank and that “land swaps” wild card will always be there like a buffer to bail out the two-state solution.

    Another charade.

    And once all the land is taken by Israel and there’s nothing left, Israel’s hacks will trot the “population swap” swindle.

  9. iResistDe4iAm
    January 2, 2013, 9:42 pm

    The “two-state solution” illusion is the modern day equivalent of the old Zionist lie: “a land without a people for a people without a land”.

  10. Blownaway
    January 3, 2013, 12:22 am

    The best part about the article ( if there is such a thing) is that the comment section calls them out for the BS that this article is. Everyone knows Fred Hyatts agenda. It came out when he hired Jennifer Rubin

  11. American
    January 3, 2013, 1:31 am

    Have to add this, it’s priceless. Koch to Great Britian…you holocausted us and now you’re doing it again! Without all of Judea and Samaria we’ll be holocausted! You nazi appeasers!

    Koch to Cameron: Judea and Samaria Essential to Israeli Security
    “Why would you expect Israel to cooperate in its intended lynching?” former New York Mayor asks British Prime Minister.

    First Publish: 1/3/2013, 3:16 AM

    Former New York Mayor Ed Koch has sent a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron, asking him why his country chose to criticize Israel for approving new construction in Judea and Samaria.

    Koch pointed out in the letter that the Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria is essential to ensuring Israel’s security, especially in the wake of recent comments by Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal.

    Mashaal, who visited Gaza for the first time last month, said in a public speech that the terror group reserves the right to use “resistance” – the Arab term for terrorism – to “liberate Palestine”.

    “Israel and the Palestinian Authority have not agreed to final borders and the Gaza government has said – the speech of Khaled Meshal is set forth in my commentary – that it will never recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel and will continue to pursue violence against that state including the kidnapping of its soldiers,” Koch wrote Cameron.

    “The official head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, has refused for the last two years to come to the peace table to negotiate without preconditions,” he added.

    “You ask Israel to cease building settlements on the West Bank, which are intended not only to house Israelis, but to provide a defense bulwark when the Islamist armies of the surrounding states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria – Assad or his opponents – and Iraq, again try militarily to crush Israel,” wrote Koch.

    “Will Britain come to Israel’s aid? I recall when in one of those wars, Britain declined to deliver to Israel tanks it had purchased from your country. Britain under Chamberlain participated in the Munich sellout of Czechoslovakia. What you and your European colleagues are doing now is repeating the sellout, this time of Israel. The Czech Republic, mindful of what happened to it, is the only European country to vote no to Palestinian statehood. When one of your predecessors told the world that he offered ‘peace in our time,’ he wrote himself into history as a disgrace. How will history on this issue recall you?


    • amigo
      January 3, 2013, 9:59 am

      Koch is nauseating in his repetitious claptrap.Not the least bit subtle is he but then he gets his narrative directly from Hasbara central and they (zios) are not known for their mastery of diplomacy.

      Cameron is probably telling his FO Staff to tell Koch to “go for a long walk”.

    • piotr
      January 3, 2013, 3:03 pm

      One detail: Koch asked about “West Bank”, but in the dialect of Arutz Sheva, this is rendered “Judea and Samaria”. Even so, ex-mayor is seriously deranged: “You ask Israel to cease building settlements on the West Bank, which are intended not only to house Israelis, but to provide a defense bulwark when the Islamist armies of the surrounding states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria – Assad or his opponents – and Iraq, again try militarily to crush Israel,” wrote Koch.

      Feisty settlers will pelt the invading forces with rocks and throw Molotov cocktails at vehicles? Hurray! We do not need to subsidize Iron Dome anymore! Or will good Jews of New York pitch in so each settlers has a naginata or at least a katana, and a pair of ninja sticks?

      • Mooser
        January 5, 2013, 1:49 pm

        “Or will good Jews of New York pitch in so each settlers has a naginata or at least a katana, and a pair of ninja sticks?”

        You don’t think contributions will at least run to light arms, assault weapons and machine guns, even a few mortars maybe some shoulder-fired rockets?

    • iResistDe4iAm
      January 4, 2013, 12:25 am

      “You ask Israel to cease building settlements on the West Bank, which are intended not only to house Israelis, but to provide a defense bulwark when the Islamist armies of the surrounding states, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria – Assad or his opponents – and Iraq, again try militarily to crush Israel” ~ former New York Mayor Ed Koch


      Settlement defense bulwark = civilian human shields.
      Israel is using 650,000 Jewish settlers as human shields by placing them in subsidised settlements on stolen land deep inside occupied enemy territories.

      Not only is Ed Koch acknowledging that Israel deliberately places its own civilians in harm’s way in potential future war zones, but he wants it to continue to expand its civilian “defense bulwark” against the combined forces of (in his words) 5 “Islamist armies”.

      • piotr
        January 4, 2013, 3:02 am

        I think you failed to parse the full nonsense of Koch position.

        First, some details. The list of “Islamic armies” is from 1948, and the argument is from 1970s. Koch may be is free from Altzheimer, but his memory operates in a way that is typical for many old people — the more recent 20 years do not register much. Next week he will not remember who Cameron is.

        Second, “defense bulwark” makes no sense whatsoever. If the goal of the “Islamic armies” is extermination of Jews or some such, “human shields” would be simply wiped out. The need to defend them or evacuate would only burden the military.

        Most importantly, the settlers themselves believe in that nonsense (hence its publication in their newspaper/website, Arutz Sheva). And it totally negates the hasbara arguments used in WaPo editorial: “Mr. Netanyahu’s zoning approval is hardly the “almost fatal blow” to a two-state solution that U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon described.” Indeed, there is no fatal blow, how many times we can kill the same solution? The logic of “bulwark” is that any spot controlled by Palestinians (or merely unoccupied) is a mortal danger to Jews, so Jews would be exterminated if they surrender an inch of occupied territories from their control.

        The two arguments are mutually exclusive: that the settlements form a thin line that stands between survival and annihilation of all Jews, and that they are harmless because they are “reversible”.

        Strangely enough, WaPo editorial makes sense only if you believe in Koch’s nonsense (mind you, the old man did not invent it, it is a widely circulated meme). Any concession of Israel to Palestinians would lead to the collapse of Israel to “Islamic armies”, like Czechoslovakia collapsed after surrendering Sudeten to Germany according to Munich treaty. Thus any pressure applied to Israel may lead to a catastrophe. Without pressure, Israel can resolutely refuse any agreement with Palestinians (unless they offer a sensible compromise, like voluntary departure for Jordan) and thus survive. The sad realities of the anti-Semitic world are such that one cannot say it loudly, that negotiations are a sham, so as the necessary and harmless sham they will remain. The fatal conclusion of Munich will be averted by continuing the negotiations (or readiness, an open invitation etc.) forever.

        On the other hand, if you believe in some form of “two state solution” that gives Palestinians anything beyond 125 disconnected pieces of “Area C” one has to limit the acceptable positions, and actions, of Israeli government somewhere.

      • James Canning
        January 4, 2013, 2:19 pm

        Surely Ed Koch is well aware all Arab countries agree to accept Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

  12. IrishMark
    January 3, 2013, 4:22 am

    View the centre’s maps for yourself. Ariel and Itamar aren’t near Israel’s border. The apartheid road system, barrier and annexation of the Jordan valley are rarely mentioned.
    William Hague has stated that no pressure will be brought to bear on Israel by the EU in relation to the continued settlement building. Another example of politicians going against the wishes of their electorate.

  13. gingershot
    January 3, 2013, 5:32 am

    The WAPO editorial is not designed to break new ground or contribute to the discussion – the wordcount is meant to dull and bury the conversation under yet another skein of crap

    It’s the endless background noise of Israel and her Lobby – another millimeter of shellac to camouflage it and to make it impenetrable to a good faith effort by a young student

    How many thousands of articles like this has it taken for Americans just to avert their eyes when trying to inform themselves on the topic?

    If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them by bullshit – the motto of the Israeli Lobby-supporters

    Mission accomplished, WAPO

  14. Shmuel
    January 3, 2013, 5:39 am

    To better understand the Ma’aleh Adumim (or East Jerusalem to Jericho) settlement strategy, it’s worth reading this B’tselem-Bimkom report from 2009, entitled “The Hidden Agenda: The Establishment and Expansion Plans of Ma’ale Adummim and their Human Rights Ramifications”: http://www.btselem.org/download/200912_maale_adummim_eng.pdf

    A look at the Peace Now “Settlement Map” wouldn’t hurt either (paying particular attention to the area around Jerusalem and between Jerusalem and Jericho): http://peacenow.org/map.php

    A north-south “corridor” or tunnel or helicopter shuttle service or giant catapult won’t change the reality of the division of the West Bank (at least) in two, or the isolation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank – on all sides. This strategy has been promoted by Israeli governments since Oslo, particularly the Sharon, Olmert and Netanyahu governments, with an eye to annexation of as much land as possible, stretching toward Jericho (note, in particular, the route of the separation wall, stretching as far east as Alon [East of Kfar Adumim], areas of settlement jurisdiction, and settlement roads).

    And a recent B’tselem summary of the impact of E1 (including the question of a “single access road” between the northern and southern West Bank): http://www.btselem.org/settlements/20121202_e1_human_rights_ramifications

  15. Talkback
    January 3, 2013, 7:47 am

    ‘Washington Post’ editorial says settlements don’t matter”

    In Neocontopia neither the violation of the Geneva Convention nor the confiscation of private land or the exploitation of resources by an occupier “matter” and the obstacle rather is the “intransigence” of the occupied and their will to self-determination. What a suprise.

    But what did the same paper wrote about Kosovo’s “unilateral statehood recognition” on February 18, 2008? (Uuups, I replaced the political actors.)

    Independent [Palestine]

    THE DECLARATION of independence … was both inevitable and long overdue. …

    … a brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing by the [Israeli] army. That campaign and the years of repression that preceded it forfeited [Israel’s] right to hold on to the [occupied territories]; …

    This logical step … would have occurred years ago if not for the lingering and poisonous nationalism of [Israel] and its encouragement by [the presidents of the US] …

    In the end, though, a peaceful and prosperous future in the [Middle East] will depend on the [Israelis]. If they choose to break with their ugly history of nationalism and embrace a liberal democratic future inside the [Middle East], [Palestine’s] course can also be smooth. If they choose endless and futile resistance to [Palestine’s] independence, the [Israelis] will isolate themselves from [the United Nations] and likely become vassals of [the US].”

    Oh, and half a year before that:
    “U.S. and European officials say that continued negotiations between [Israel] and [Palestine] hold no prospect of success, and that any further delay in clarifying [Palestine]’s legal status and its relationship with [Israel] could fuel a resumption of violence there.”

  16. James Canning
    January 3, 2013, 7:44 pm

    I continue to think the borders of the West Bank should not change merely because Jews have illegally settled in the WB.
    And swaps could be considered by Palestine after Israel pulls its troops and police out.

  17. robin
    January 4, 2013, 1:34 am

    Both sides insist that the other can make do with a road corridor.

    So, unlike everything else, Ma’ale Adumim is not supposed to be subject to negotiations? Israel gets that part of the West Bank automatically?

    I guess the Palestinians have already waived their claim to that land… or the Washington Post just annexed Ma’ale Adumim to Israel.

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