settlements are not the obstacle to peace. They never have been. The true obstacle to peace remains what it has always been: the Palestinian refusal to accept a permanent and sovereign Jewish presence in the land of Israel. Palestinian leaders continue to harbor fantasies of annihilation, which is why they have been loath to accept even the most generous of Israeli offers over the years. This is one reason why settlements are so important: they disabuse the Palestinians of their deeply-held notion that Israel is a passing or temporary phenomenon. Every red-bricked Israeli roof that is erected on the outskirts of Ramallah, every Hebrew hothouse that goes up south of Hebron, is a tangible reminder to Mr. Abbas and his colleagues that the Jewish people are here to stay. If each time they look out their windows, the Palestinian leadership is faced with a steadily–growing Jewish horizon, they will be forced to accept this basic and fundamental truth. Then, and only then, will peace possibly have a chance of breaking out. So it is time for the Jewish state to rev up the bulldozers and start building again throughout Judea and Samaria. Both because it is good for Israel and, ironically enough, also for peace.
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