Come off it Barry* ‘freeze’ should refer to number of units, not how much space they take up. Location and spread matters (disrupts movement, forces detours, hampers social and economic activities) but it is the density that has the resource implications. Every unit built – even in those blocs that are likely to remain with Israel (in a 1:1 land swap accepted in principle by negotiators on both sides according to currently active peace plans) – runs counter to the spirit (though sadly not the letter, which has left loopholes) of the peace process and the findings from the Mitchell Report.
It goes without saying (or should) that violence, racism and rejectionism among Palestinians – which long predates the settlements or even the establishment of Israel and which is most present in the form of Hamas, a Palestinian grouping of the Muslim Brotherhood -, continues to be a similarly huge obstacle to conflict resolution – but a freeze should be a freeze and it should not allow for ‘natural growth’ or any further units whatsoever. This is something Israel could do unilaterally without a Palestinian partner. There shouldn’t be any more units* and it would be a very positive gesture to reverse or hand over what has been built, say, since Oslo.
If Israeli government coalitions can endure or break because of the machinations of their minority interest hardline pro-settlement contingent then there must be something wrong with the system. I would like to know more but it doesn’t seem to be a matter that most reporters make it their business to explain. And I get most of my information on settlements from Israel boycott campaigners, you know – they’re the last people to ask for help with getting to the bottom of anything.
*The two pieces mentioned in the title of this post.