Netanyahu Mustn't Buckle Under Pressure From Settlers

Instead of buckling under pressure from the settlers and their political supporters, Netanyahu must extend the settlement building moratorium and begin intensive talks.

Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Haaretz.
Haaretz Editorial

There is no greater folly than expanding the settlements at the height of peace talks aimed at establishing a Palestinian state. The settlements were built to prevent the division of the land, by changing the demographic balance in the West Bank. They were intended to create facts that would thwart an Israeli withdrawal from the territories where an independent Palestinian state would arise. Expanding the settlements undermines any diplomatic agreement, damages Israel's international standing and increases the occupier's pressure on West Bank Palestinians, whose lands are being stolen and whose day-to-day lives are bound by the limitations of checkpoints and roads built for the settlers.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is insisting on renewing construction in the settlements at the end of the 10-month freeze while negotiating with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on a "two-state solution." This raises major questions regarding his intentions.

Credit: Amos Biederman

If Netanyahu really means to divide the land, he must stop settlement construction at least until the future border is agreed on, which would make clear where Israel can build and what areas will be evacuated.

Abbas is threatening that the talks will halt if construction restarts, and Netanyahu has accused him of being unfair: the Palestinians negotiated for 17 years while previous governments doubled settlements, and he, Netanyahu, is now the one being asked to maintain a moratorium on construction. This argument suits a debate club, not statesmen. Expansion of the settlements was and still is one of the main factors in the failure of the talks, exacerbation of the conflict and the growing belief that a solution is impossible.

The 10-month freeze was necessary to create a foundation for the talks.

In his speech at the Washington summit, Netanyahu pledged that he is seeking to strike an agreement with Abbas, not just to argue with him. Now he has to make good on that pledge. Instead of buckling under pressure from the settlers and their political supporters, he should extend the moratorium and begin intensive talks.

If he continues to waver in an attempt to please everyone, both supporters and opponents of an agreement, he will not be able to fulfill his pledge, making a solution more distant, further harming Israel's standing and perhaps leading to a renewed flare-up in the territories.

Benjamin Netanyahu speaking during the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office, July 25, 2010.Credit: AP

Comments

SUBSCRIBERS JOIN THE CONVERSATION FASTER

Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

SUBSCRIBE
Already signed up? LOG IN

ICYMI

The Orion nebula, photographed in 2009 by the Spitzer Telescope.

What if the Big Bang Never Actually Happened?

Relatives mourn during the funeral of four teenage Palestinians from the Nijm family killed by an errant rocket in Jabalya in the northern Gaza Strip, August 7.

Why Palestinian Islamic Jihad Rockets Kill So Many Palestinians

בן גוריון

'Strangers in My House': Letters Expelled Palestinian Sent Ben-Gurion in 1948, Revealed

AIPAC

AIPAC vs. American Jews: The Toxic Victories of the 'pro-Israel' Lobby

Bosnian Foreign Minister Bisera Turkovic speaks during a press conference in Sarajevo, Bosnia in May.

‘This Is Crazy’: Israeli Embassy Memo Stirs Political Storm in the Balkans

Hamas militants take part in a military parade in Gaza.

Israel Rewards Hamas for Its Restraint During Gaza Op