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Preparing for Israeli-Arab peace

12/18/2007

A Meretz* and Israel Labor Party initiative would have funded the evacuation of settlers who wanted to leave from West Bank communities beyond the security fence. This was an excellent idea in many respects. It should have been a model for a number of preparatory steps required as necessary conditions to make peace possible. Instead, it was buried by the Israeli government.

The Arab-Israeli or Arab Jewish conflict has gone on for about a hundred years. Israel, the Palestinians and the Arab world have erected various barriers to peace and compromise that protect them behind their dug-in and fortified positions in the conflict. Some barriers are real, while others are just psychological - but just as difficult to remove perhaps. On the Israeli side, the settlements and the settlers are there to ensure that there will be no Palestinian state in the historic lands of Judea and Samaria (as they are called historically and in Israel, AKA West Bank since 1945). On the Arab side, many Arab refugees of the 1948 War of Israeli Independence have not been absorbed into Arab European countries, and remain in refugee camps indefinitely. It will take years, and billions of dollars to resettle the refugees, and until they are resettled they form a permanent and active lobby group against any compromise peace settlement. It will take years, and money, to resettle the West Bank settlers. As long as they remain where they are, with an umbrella organization to lobby for their interests, they constitute a human, as well as a physical obstacle to peace. Nor is the "lobbying" confined to political work. Refugee camps like Ein al Hilweh breed terrorists of every variety including Al-Qaeda. The Lebanese, who do not wish to integrate the Palestinians into their society, should consider carefully whether they prefer to breed Al-Qaeda terrorists. As for the settlers, Meyrav Wurmser promises us that they will not give up their homes without a fight. The Israeli government should consider whether it prefers to lure them out with money or to force them out at gunpoint.

There are good reasons why the sides will not give up these obstacles to peace. Like any fortified works, they are part of the defenses. Removing settlers or resettling refugees is "giving up a position." But there is no good reason why the United States and the Europeans, who have now so generously supported the Palestinian state in the making with a Christmas gift of $7.4 billion, should not begin devoting their attention to resettling the refugees and unsettling the settlers. According to Akiva Eldar, it will cost $90 billion to solve the refugee problem - not an impossible sum if it is done gradually. A huge sum? Each day, about 25 million barrels of oil are pumped, and each barrel is sold for nearly $100. Suppose that a tax of just $1.00 was put on each barrel. In a year, we would have over $8 billion - more than was pledged to the Palestinians with such fanfare over a three year period. We can start with the camps in Lebanon and the West Bank, which should be on their way to vanishing within a year. When the refugees begin to see concrete deliverance, perhaps they will be more supportive of peace, rather than pie in the sky promises of "right of return." When Israelis see the beginnings of actual constructive solutions to the Palestinian problem, then perhaps the political support of the settlers will collapse.

Let's prepare for peace. A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.

Ami Isseroff
* Corrected, in the light of the comment below.

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Replies: 3 comments

Ami,
The bill to buyout West Bank settlers was at least as much a Meretz initiative as Labor. The legislation was jointly sponsored by Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan and Labor MK Colette Avital. Ehud Barak was a very recent convert, announcing his support without even bothering to contact Vilan and Avital.

Has it been derailed in the Knesset? I hope it's not really dead.

Posted by Ralph Seliger @ 12/18/2007 05:57 PM CST

Sorry for slighting Meretz. I think the bill is pretty much dead, as it will not get government support. Objectively, it had no chance, since there are many higher spending priorities - reinforcing Sderot houses, ending the university strike (nobody talks about it, but it is still going on)- and many many others.
Ami

Posted by Ami Isseroff @ 12/18/2007 07:02 PM CST

Ami's math is as poor as his analysis. 25 mil. barrels per day taxed at $1 per barrel would yield $9.125 billion a year, not $8 bil. In talking about evecuating the "settlers", not once does he mention evacuating Israeli Arabs who identify with the Arab "nation". Not once does he mention why the terrorist breeding grounds exist in the first place. Not once does he even display an awareness of the Islamofascist supermecism which is the dominant force in Islamic tyranies. People should not propose solutions if they are incapable of comprehending the problem.

Posted by Paul Winter @ 12/19/2007 07:34 AM CST


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