Israel’s Stiff Upper Lip

Despite the unceasing attacks, Israelis have maintained their normal lives—thereby helping their leaders make more considered decisions. 

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Israeli society

 

West Bank Settlements Are Legal under the Oslo Accords—and They’re Not Expanding

Earlier this month, the Middle East Quartet—a group comprising representatives of the U.S., Russia, the EU, and the UN, self-tasked with bringing a resolution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict—produced a report that, inter alia, complained of the growth of the “West Bank settler population” since 2009 and the construction of new houses for Jews in the area. But, argues Ahron Shapiro, the statistics cited by the Quartet are misleading, perhaps mendaciously so. In fact, he writes, the settlements are demographically “treading water.” And that’s not the only problem:

[T]he Quartet report fails to explain . . . that all Israeli West Bank settlements are in [what is designated by the Oslo Accords as] Area C, and it failed to differentiate between construction in settlement blocs and in isolated settlements. This is no mere issue of semantics and is as equally relevant for settlement blocs as for Israel’s east Jerusalem neighborhoods.

The entire raison d’être for the mutually agreed land swaps that everyone from President Obama to the Arab League have referred to as part of any potential peace agreement between the Palestinians and Israel is to help resolve the settlement issue. They were designed to do so by allowing Israel to keep its existing east Jerusalem neighborhoods and strategic settlement blocs [in area C] where most settlers live and in return give the Palestinians land inside of pre-1967 Israel as compensation.

If settlement blocs and east Jerusalem neighborhoods aren’t the land the Security Council and Quartet had in mind for land swaps, just what exactly were they expecting to swap? And if they are the land destined for swaps, what exactly is the problem if Israel builds there? . . .

[Furthermore], since taking office in 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu has built fewer homes in Israeli settlements in the West Bank than previous prime ministers going back to the 1990s. . . . [Finally], the long-term trend has shown proportionally fewer housing starts in Israeli settlements than elsewhere in Israel, and also fewer housing starts in proportion to the Israel’s settler population compared to the general population. . . .

[A]ccording to the Oslo Accords and its signed addenda and additions—legally binding documents recognized under international law—Israel has the right to exercise complete administrative and security control over Area C. . . .

If Israel is forced to conclude that any such agreements signed by Israel as part of a peace deal may fail to be upheld and supported by the international community, how can it sign a [new] peace deal which will almost certainly require international security guarantees?

Read more at Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC)

More about: Israel & Zionism, Middle East Quartet, Oslo Accords, Settlements, West Bank