As a blog dedicated to combating antisemitism and the assault on Israel’s legitimacy at the Guardian, however, it is within our purview to exposemisleading or erroneous geographical, political or legal claims about the settlements by Guardian journalists and commentators – and to combat the demonizationof Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria.
One of the most stubbornly held (often logically and politically under-explored) beliefs about the Israeli settlements (at the Guardian and elsewhere) is that their existence (or growth) represents the biggest obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinians – and even, some would argue, between Israel and the larger Arab world.
Whilst reasonable people can oppose Israeli construction across the green line for any number of moral, political and legal reasons, it is peculiar how few critics even bother to defend their view that Israeli withdrawal from the disputed territories will lead to peace (and foster co-existence) with the Palestinians or, at least, will make the Jewish state more secure.
These articles of faith typically ignore historical evidence and political facts which contradict their thesis.
For instance, if this theory is valid, why didn’t Israeli withdrawals from Gaza, S. Lebanon (and ceding military and civilian control over parts of the West Bank to the PA) result in peaceful outcomes? Why didn’t the rocket attacks on Israeli communities, and other acts of terrorism, cease?
If Palestinian/Arab anti-Zionism, antisemitism, extremism and terrorism, is in fact fed by ‘the settlements’ – and represents Islamist terror group’s raison d’être – why weren’t Hezbollah and Hamas (and extremist movements active within the PA) politically neutered by the absence of settlements (and IDF presence) in these territories?
What evidence is there that Israeli withdrawal from most or all of the West Bank (and eastern Jerusalem) will result in the creation of a peaceful, non-extremist Palestinian government and political culture?
The absence of critical thinking about the issue is often typically accompanied by disinterest in Israeli opinion – expressed in political polls and Israeli elections – which demonstrates that while most Israelissupport the idea of a two-state solution, they support withdrawals from land necessary for a Palestinian state only if the creation of that state truly leads to peace.
A strong majority of Israelis – who have lived through Intifadas, thousands of rocket attacks and (just as important) the absence of international support for military actions to defend their nation from such assaults - believe that (under current political conditions) such withdrawals will not, in fact, lead to peace or improved security.
Those who insist that the ‘settlements’ represent the biggest obstacle to peace should be asked to explain why recent history in the region should be ignored and why Israeli fears about such a monumental military decision (which can’t easily be undone) are unfounded.