There's No Such Thing as Moderate Settlement Building

Instead of suspending construction for Jews, let's resume construction for all West Bank residents.

Benjamin Netanyahu is quite right. "Moderate, restrained construction in Judea and Samaria in the coming year will not affect the peace map in any way," he was quoted as saying.

At the end of the day, all we're dealing with is a humanitarian problem of a few thousand young couples who want a roof over their head. What do they want from us, to order a freeze on childbirth beyond the Green Line? Not to build a day-care center, kindergarten or school? Is it conceivable that goyim forbid Jews to set up a synagogue in the City of the Patriarchs? Is this what we established a Jewish state for?

What is that Hussein Obama thinking, that he can buy us off with vital weapons and strategic guarantees? Does he expect Bibi to renounce "moderate and restrained construction that would not affect the peace map in any way" for 60 whole days in exchange for long-term security control in the Jordan Valley?

If I were President Mahmoud Abbas, I'd write Netanyahu the following letter right away:

"Prime Minister, sir, I understand your sentiments. There is really no need to make a big deal out of a few hundred more apartments for young couples and a handful of kindergartens. I, too, have children and grandchildren. After all, in a year's time we'll be signing an agreement that outlines the permanent borders, and that will be the end of the settlements. Let's forget Israel's violation of its official international commitment (as part of the road map ) to freeze construction in the settlements, including building for natural growth."

"I'm even willing to ignore the outposts you built on the lands of poor farmers. By the way, I found in the archive that in January 2006, you promised in your Herzliya speech that if the Sharon government decided to evacuate the outposts, the Likud would support it. In the Bar-Ilan speech you said you intended to bring about the dismantling of 'unauthorized outposts.' According to Peace Now figures, dozens of prefabricated and mobile homes and even permanent structures have been added to the outposts since then. All under the noses of the IDF and the Civil Administration.

I only have one condition. Instead of suspending construction for Jews, let's resume construction for all West Bank residents. Including Area C, which in our great naivete we agreed to turn over to your complete control. This was in addition to the old trick you learned from the Ottomans - the definition of "state lands" confiscated about a million dunams of our land and turned them into Jewish state lands. Even then, in 1995, when we signed this agreement (Oslo B ) that placed 60 percent of the occupied West Bank in your hands, we were promised it was a temporary matter.

"Surely, you remember that in 1998, Yasser Arafat and Bill Clinton signed the Wye Agreement with you, which should have passed 13 percent of Area C to our hands. Then, too, the settlers twisted your arm and you threw the agreement into the wastepaper basket. Ultimately, it didn't help you and you fell from power.

"More than 70,000 Palestinians living in this region depend on your favors and benevolence. Your own Defense Ministry figures show 94 percent of these people's requests for building permits - including schools, and forgive me, even toilets - have been refused. Having no alternative, they build without permits and then the Civil Administration tears down their buildings. I have news for you. There's natural growth in Ramallah, too.

"During all the years you've been ruling us, you haven't built a single village in the territories. Now that we're building our first city, near Ramallah, you're frightened of the settlers and refuse to let the road to Rawabi pass in Area C.

"My people in East Jerusalem report that their living conditions (that is, your living conditions; after all, you say the same rules apply to Jerusalem as to Tel Aviv ) are so crowded, they're beginning to resemble Gaza. Nir Barkat is more diligent in issuing demolition orders than building permits to Palestinians. The housing shortage in East Jerusalem is estimated in tens of thousands of apartments. Even your High Court of Justice has reprimanded the Education Ministry for the huge lack of classrooms.

"How did you say, sir, all we're dealing with is 'moderate and restrained construction that will not affect the peace map in any way.' I'm convinced you did not mean construction for Jewish children only. So yalla! Let's build for everyone, everywhere. In any case, as you say, in a year's time, we'll be making peace."