Settlements Would Not Prevent a Two-State Outcome If Israelis Had a Genuine Peace Partner

(Sydney Morning Herald-Australia) Colin Rubenstein and Jamie Hyams - Israel captured the West Bank in a defensive war in 1967 and, when its offer to exchange land for peace was unequivocally rebuffed by the Arab League, began establishing settlements in the area. This was partly for the need for security, given the hostile intentions and actions of its neighbors, and partly to allow some Jews to live in places that had Jewish communities going back hundreds if not thousands of years, until the Jordanians ethnically cleansed them in 1948. Under the 1993 Oslo accords the Palestinian Authority was formed. 95% of West Bank Palestinians now live under the authority's rule. In 2000, then authority president Yasser Arafat refused the Camp David offer of a Palestinian state and launched the second intifada, characterized by widespread terrorism inside pre-1967 Israel, most notably suicide bombings, that killed more than 1,000 Israelis and maimed thousands more. Israel again offered the Palestinian Authority a state on increasingly generous terms in 2001 and 2008, only for the authority to again walk away. A unilateral total Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, intended to allow the Palestinians there to rule themselves as a peaceful entity alongside Israel, instead resulted in a Hamas takeover, more than 10,000 rockets and mortars, terror tunnels and three wars. The settlements, as even Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat has admitted, occupy less than 2% of the West Bank. Furthermore, the vast majority of settlers live in blocs that it is generally accepted Israel will retain in any peace deal. Settlements did not prevent the previous Israeli offers of statehood, and they would not prevent a two-state outcome if the Israelis had a genuine peace partner. Dr. Colin Rubenstein is executive director of the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council, where Jamie Hyams is a senior policy analyst.

2017-02-27 00:00:00

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