Unsettlement in the West Bank

Twelve-year old girls throwing rocks, the desecration of a Palestinian cemetery, and the murder of a Palestinian man. The recent rise of hardline settler violence against Palestinians and Israeli security forces has at last prompted the Israeli government to immediately halt any kind of support for illegal outposts in the West Bank.

At the same time a special security force will be deployed to enable, by force if necessary, the delayed dismantlement of the outposts, and the criminal justice system will be adapted. These are long overdue steps which are certainly positive but need to be consolidated with the freeze on settlement activity agreed at Annapolis.

Maximalist settlers who would fight Palestinian sovereignty in the event of a two-state solution are indistinguishable from the regional Islamists like Hamas in their rejection of Israeli sovereignty in Israel – both attempt to wreck the peace process and both need to be resisted. I don’t have a problem with intensely religious people trying to get as close as possible to the holy sites which mean so much to them – but it’s got to be lawful and peaceful. The Jews who cluster round the Tombs of the Patriarchs at Hebron will sooner or later need to make their peace with the Palestinians under whose authority (I hope) they will live, and at the moment at least some of them are going in the exact opposite direction.

How has such a small proportion of Israelis made themselves so politically important in Israel? This is difficult to find out from news – you gotta read them heavy things. I also wish Israel would ditch this stupid PR system which requires politicians to spend so much time licking each others’ arses that they don’t have any spare spit left for their constituents’.

More on Ynet, the AP, the International Herald and Tribune, and Reuters Global News Blog.

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10 thoughts on “Unsettlement in the West Bank

  1. “The Jews who cluster round the Tombs of the Patriarchs at Hebron will sooner or later need to make their peace with the Palestinians under whose authority (I hope) they will live, and at the moment at least some of them are going in the exact opposite direction.”

    What do you think will happen to Jewish access to our holy places if the Palestinians take control? Will Jews be able to visit these places or not? Based on past experience, I do not think so.

    Like it or not, those settlers are the ones guaranteeing Jewish access to these sites. When they leave, the Palestinians will turn the Tomb of the Patriarchs into a toilet. Just like they’ve done to Gaza.

  2. New Centrist, thanks for pointing this out. It’s true that what I said up there was very breezy and utopian. It was a vision of a time where Jewish settlers don’t rampage against Palestinians and Israeli security forces as they were doing when I wrote that. I know that the prospects for access to the sites depend on a hell of a lot changing.

    But the settlers of Hebron are known for violent hostility and humiliation towards Palestinians with soldiers looking on. Whatever concerns about access to the religious places, they cannot justify this militancy. It’s bankrupt and it’s not pious, and I can’t see how a relic can be worth the fear and the (bad) blood.

  3. Why are the Jews of Hebron acting in a such an antagonistic manner towards the Palestinians? Do they have legitimate grievances? Are they escalating tension to force the government to act in their favor? etc.

    I’m not an expert on ancient history or the Torah but Numbers 13:22 notes the city was founded around 1720 BCE making it among the world’s oldest (if not the oldest) Jewish communities.

    Columbia Encyclopedia:

    “The site of ancient Hebron, which antedates the biblical record, has David ruled the Hebrews from Hebron for seven years before moving his capital to Jerusalem, and Absalom began his revolt in Hebron.

    The city has figured in many wars in Palestine. It was taken (2d cent. b.c.) by Judas Maccabeus and temporarily destroyed by the Romans. In 636 it was conquered by the Arabs and made an important place of pilgrimage, later to be seized (1099) by the Crusaders and renamed St. Abraham, and retaken (1187) by Saladin. It later became (16th cent.) part of the Ottoman Empire.

    In the 20th cent., Hebron was incorporated (1922–48) in the League of Nations Palestine mandate…”

    Tensions escalated during the Mandate period and the Jewish community was attacked August 23, 1929. This is from Encyclopedia Judaica:

    “The assault was well planned and its aim was well defined: the elimination of the Jewish settlement of Hebron. The rioters did not spare women, children, or the aged; the British gave passive assent. Sixty-seven were killed, 60 wounded, the community was destroyed, synagogues razed, and Torah scrolls burned.”

    Jews slowly returned but by 1936 were driven from the community by British authorities. In 1948, Hebron was taken by Jordan during Israel’s war for independence. The city remained under Jordanian occupation until 1967. During that time Jews were denied access to holy sites in the city. Forget about establishing residency. There was also a comprehensive effort to remove any evidence of the Jewish presence in the city.

  4. New Centrist, thank you.

    There is no reason why these Jews shouldn’t remain peacefully in Hebron and at the same time there is strong indication that this will not be possible in the event of a two state agreement. Ultimately, the ethos behind Masri Feki’s Middle East Pact would allow these Jews to remain in Hebron – so that is a long term aim achieved through coexistence work and legal reform. But in the short to medium term, I am not sure.

  5. Pingback: Busy Times « The New Centrist

  6. NC, congratulations on your good news. I hope your wife feels chipper again soon. Thank you for adding me to your blogroll – reciprocated.

    Could you expand on your above radical solution, ideally in SWOT style?

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