A Moderate Approach: Settlements Still not in State’s Interest

September 16, 2009
Nathan Hersh

Nathan Hersh, an Oleh Hadash from the US, graduated with a BA in American Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Boston in 2008

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal traveled to Cairo on 6 September, and many optimistic Israelis thought it was to sign the final deal for the release of IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Instead, the Hamas leader claimed the deal was far from over, and urged the Arab states not to rush to peace with Israel. This is a truly adverse effect for Israel resulting from Netanyahu’s move with regard to settlements.

Netanyahu approved the building of hundreds of new buildings in existing settlements on 5 September, in a move that was meant to bring his conservative coalition back to his side after agreeing to temporarily halt settlement growth to allow for US peace efforts. A settlement freeze is set to take place within the next month, after this approval goes through. Netanyahu has a better chance to get the conservatives in the Knesset to approve a settlement construction suspension if he allows new buildings to be built just before the indefinite freeze takes effect. However, now, due to this expansion approval, Hamas has the ammo to spread anti-peace sentiments to the Arab countries.

Of course, no Arab country is in a position right now to stand against the West in its endeavors here, but its not the governments that Hamas is appealing to. It is not possible for the Arabs to make peace with Israel, no matter how much it might help them militarily or economically, until there is a peace with the Palestinians. Otherwise, the dropping of the Palestinian cause would lead to riots and terrorism against the current Arab regimes. (Just last week, a Saudi prince was lightly wounded in an attempted suicide-bomb assassination, a sign of growing discontent among Saudis of their leadership). Instead, Hamas is appealing to the people of the Arab world for support. This is a primary example of the type of Iranian influence making its way to this side of the Persian Gulf, and is exactly what Obama intends to use to pressure his peace process here.

Netanyahu needs to appease those Knesset members who would be otherwise opposed to the freeze, and he also can’t let Jews turn into refugees in the West Bank. However, the clout this move gives to Hamas is dangerous, especially because it also somewhat humiliates the PA, who needs to be bolstered as much as possible so long as they are the opposition to Hamas and support the two-state solution.

The settlements can be looked at in two ways. One is the idea of Jews living in a future Palestinian state, which is the position commonly taken by many Knesset members. The other, however, is that the settlement growth under occupation is turning the entire land between the river and the sea into a de facto single, bi-national state. The latter is a grim scenario.

If this land becomes a bi-national single state, then the Jewish state not only ceases to exist, but the policies currently in place to protect Israelis from terrorism have to be removed, or else the democratic nature of the state is sacrificed, and greater Israel inexorably becomes an apartheid state. I personally refuse to be a part of that state, and I don’t want to be here if it is overthrown, either.

It is in the interest of all people here to execute the two-state solution before it, and the Jewish state, disappear.

Settlement Watch Team Report

August 23, 2009

Peace NowThe settlement watch team has just released its semiannual report on settlement construction, January-June 2009.  It gives a detailed report and analysis of activity within the settlements.

To view the report, please visit our website, or the Settlement Watch Team Blog.

Y Net news

Y Net news has also reported on the report, please click here to read it.

Ya’alon is the real threat to Democracy

August 23, 2009

Peace NowMinister of Strategic Affairs and Deputy Prime Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud) told a closed-door meeting of far-right activists last week that he was not afraid of the Americans and that Peace Now and the so-called Israeli “elites” are viruses… causing grave damage to the state of Israel.

Peace Now General Secretary Yariv Oppenheimer responded to Ya’alon’s statements calling them “dangerous” and adding that “they mark Peace Now as a target”.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak responded to the comments by saying: “Peace Now is an important part of the peace camp and an integral part of the democratic dialogue in Israeli society.”

Peace Now Demonstration

August 18, 2009

Peace Now activists demonstrate Over one hundred and fifty Peace Now activists demonstrated last night outsideShepherd Hotel, Sheikh Jarrah, where a dinner for Mick Huckabee was being held.  They were protesting settlement construction in East Jerusalem .

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Erecting West Bank outpost is just as grave as any other Shas bribery scandal

August 18, 2009

Yariv OppenheimerYesterday during a visit to West Bank outposts the Interior Minister Eli Yishai stated he was not visiting illegal outposts but “to legal settlements built by the governments of Israel”
Peace Now Director Yariv Oppenheimer released a statement following the ministers’ visit: “Erecting West Bank outposts is just as grave as the bribery scandal that Shlomo Benizri was convicted of, but evidently, Shas’ chairman does not think the law applies to his political or ideological associates, who apparently deserve only immunity and clemency.”

Surprise – Fatah isn’t joining the WZO – Yariv Oppenheimer – 10/08/2009

August 10, 2009

Yariv Oppenheimer At its convention in Bethlehem this week, Fatah refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state or adopt Hebrew as its official language, and didn’t conclude with a rendition of HaTikva (Israel’s national anthem). What a disappointment, what a blow to the champions of peace.

The Palestinians remain unchanged; an oppressed and harried people desiring independence alongside Israel without having to recognize or uphold Zionist ideals or the principles of the Jewish state. Those hoping the Palestinians were on the verge of joining the World Zionist Organization and pledging allegiance to the State of Israel may be disappointed, but realists willing to take an honest look at the Bethlehem convention will have seen positive and unprecedented indications of new Palestinian willingness to make peace with Israel and drop the demand for the right of return.

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Abusing Jerusalem to Assail Peace: the Case of the Shepherd’s Hotel

August 2, 2009

Sheikh JarrahClick here to read an interview produced in July 2009 by attorney Daniel Seidemann and Lara Friedman, Director of Policy and Government at Americans for Peace Now.  The interview deals, in depth, with the various issues surrounding the Shepherd’s Hotel controversy

Click here to view Americans for Peace Now homepage.

You Ask – Peace Now Answers

August 2, 2009

Hagit OfranIf your are interested in learning more about the West Bank settlements, then join our director of Settlement Watch progrmae, Hagit Ofran, for a live question and answer session over the internet on 04/08/2009 at 14.00 Israel time.  For more information please click here

For more information about Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project, please click here

Get to know Hagit through her personal blog
Get to know Hagit through an interview, conducted by Uriel Heilman, in JTA
Get to know Hagit’s work through an article, written by James Kitfield, in the National Journal

Freeze for Peace

August 2, 2009

On Wednesday 22nd July 2009, Peace Now organized a FlashMob to FREEZE in the Azrieli Mall in Tel Aviv. Whilst FROZEN the activists held Post It Notes campaigning for a settlement FREEZE.

To take part in other FREEZE events please check out our homepage.

Setting the Record Straight: Palestinians Can’t Really Live in West Jerusalem

July 28, 2009

Americans for Peace NowClick here to read an article by Americans for Peace Now Director of Policy and Government Relations Lara Friedman, setting the record straight on Palestinians ability to live in West Jerusalem.