Opinion |

A Victory for the Settlers, Not for Israel

Zehava Galon
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A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and settlement council leaders, November 28, 2019.
A meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and settlement council leaders, November 28, 2019. Credit: Kobi Gideon / BauBau
Zehava Galon

The Yesha Council has decided to reject Donald Trump’s peace plan. One hears this headline, and it’s like hearing a report that “The mayor of Haifa has decided to support Trump’s plan and dispatched the city’s head of foreign affairs to Washington.”

Commentators are already discussing whether the Yesha Council decision is just spin designed to help Benjamin Netanyahu or the council’s true position. But it’s been shown that people can get used to the most absurd things, like a municipality dispatching its own diplomatic delegation – an original Israeli trick. Another Israeli trick is explaining to the left that it mustn’t speak abroad. That’s only allowed for those who are promoting the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state.

It’s clear why the Yesha Council has a position on the “deal of the century” plan, which will have an impact on settlements. It’s also clear why it chooses to express this position in Washington. It’s not clear why Israelis are ready to keep funding this absurd situation.

The regional councils in the territories are sustained by our taxes and enjoy a wide range of defense grants, special aid and supplemental budgets. According to the Adva Center for policy analysis, they have been receiving preferential treatment for 20 years now. In 2017, government participation in budgets of non-Haredi settlements came to 3,623 shekels per capita, compared to just 2,326 shekels per capita in the development towns. Without this money and without our apathy, there could be no activity by such ridiculous bodies as the Yesha Council Foreign Affairs Desk.

Thanks to our apathy, important figures like the head of the Jordan Valley regional council and the Efrat local council got to fly to Washington. Regional councils outside of Israel’s borders claim that they are Israel, receive funds and use them to pressure countries into supporting Israel’s annexation of these areas. It’s no wonder we’re so obsessive about sovereignty. We have no idea what it looks like.

The settler leadership gained this special status because successive governments enabled it to obtain it. The public was told that the settler leaders are doing hasbara, which has become the official whitewashing mechanism for everything. Including using public funds to pressure other countries to quietly accept construction in the settlements, which was intended to prevent that same public from being able to reach a political accord. We finance the people who are shackling us and then we take our anger out on Breaking the Silence and B’Tselem, and ask, “But why abroad?”

For years, the taxes paid by leftists have been used so settler leaders could promote, on their behalf, eternal war and the transformation of Israel into an apartheid state. With their help, the position of the settlement movement has become the voice of Israel abroad. Instead of tossing out this despicable arrangement, many leftists instead attacked the few people who dared to make themselves heard abroad.

The settler lobby did not explain Israel, it explained itself. The Trump plan is also the fruit of their unholy alliance with the evangelicals in the United States. This plan is a settler victory, not an Israeli victory. Israeli troops are not patrolling in Washington, nor are they raiding homes in Chicago or New Orleans.

The Trump plan promises more of the same war we’ve been fighting for 52 years. Given the Orwellian state of the world lately, it’s no wonder that Washington and Jerusalem are calling this a “peace plan.”

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