A Palestinians state is an Israeli interest of the highest order. A new neighborhood in Ariel or Arab Jerusalem will not advance its establishment.
Had Peace Now not published reports from time to time, it is doubtful anyone would have been aware of the continuing construction in the settlements. One might have assumed from the declarations by Ehud Olmert's government that construction had been suspended and that efforts were being made to reach a peace agreement to include withdrawal from most of the West Bank. From the complaints by the settlers' leadership as well, one might have concluded that there was a freeze on building and that the settler youth were really and truly homeless.
But quite different things are happening in the territories. The dynamic of deception is continuing. Deception of the Americans, deception of the voters for parties that etched peace on their standard, deception of the Palestinians and above all self-deception. Our top leaders have joined together on a course that has no objective. These include Defense Minister Ehud Barak, whose political path no one understands and which he himself is not bothering to clarify, the prime minister, who serves as a commentator on reality instead of shaping it, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who is conducting negotiations on evacuation while the government is continuing to build.
The Labor Party is indeed "not ripe for elections," as Education Minister Yuli Tamir said yesterday, and it is very doubtful it will ever be so. Instead of putting all its energy into furthering legislation of an evacuation-compensation law, which would enable whomever is interested to leave the West Bank immediately (and it is estimated that thousands are interested), petitions are arriving at the High Court of Justice on the positioning of mobile homes at the edges of outposts that have not been evacuated.
It is difficult to understand the point of the High Court's order to remove one mobile home at Har Bracha when the defense minister is approving the construction of 48 new homes in Ariel for settlers evacuated from Gush Katif. These evacuees were not supposed to live in the settlements, but they have arrived there nonetheless.
The provocative construction in the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem is continuing full speed ahead, under the fraudulent heading of strengthening Jerusalem. Barak and Olmert are retreating from the line formulated as far back as 2000, to the effect that Arab Jerusalem will be for the Palestinians and Jewish Jerusalem for the Jews. The impression has emerged that it is no coincidence that the same Barak who failed in those talks is the one causing these talks to fail.
The same Ze'ev "Zambish" Hever, who along with Ariel Sharon brought the settlements disaster down on the State of Israel, is continuing to push for construction in the West Bank under the auspices of a government that had declared a different path. It appears there is no point at all in electing a government and formulating coalition guidelines because whether it is a government of the right or left, building in the settlements continues.
Israel is continuing to work against itself, against its future, against any chance for the existence of two nation states side by side.
During her visit yesterday, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that henceforth the Americans would keep an eye on Israel's easing of conditions for the Palestinians in the West Bank. For years the same old dance has been going on in which the Americans scold and the Israelis promise, as though the Israelis have decided to make every effort to thwart the solution that everyone knows is the only solution. Time is running out and the self-deception is continuing. Not the Americans, but rather the Israelis will bear the results of this continued disorder.
If there is any place forbidden for Israel to build even one more house, it is the West Bank, beyond the separation fence and anywhere it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that it is part of the Palestinian state. Such a state is an Israeli interest of the highest order. A new neighborhood in Ariel or Arab Jerusalem will not advance its establishment.