Israeli Settlers Have Helped Their Bedouin Neighbors, Whom the Palestinian Authority and the EU Have Kept Living in Shacks

Located about seven miles east of Jerusalem, Khan al-Ahmar consists of little more than a cluster of tents and tin shacks that are home to a few hundred Bedouin. The Oslo Accords placed the settlement, along with the nearby Jewish village of Kfar Adumim, in Area C of the West Bank—which was to remain under direct Israeli control pending further negotiations. Because the structures making up Khan al-Ahmar were built illegally, the Israeli government has tried for years to relocate the Bedouin to somewhere where they could live in more suitable conditions. But both European governments and the Palestinian Authority have gotten in the way, as Danny Tirza explains:

Proposals submitted by the [Israeli West Bank] Civil Administration to the Bedouin to relocate onto building plots—which would include public infrastructure and compensation—were rejected on various grounds, often due to political pressure from the Palestinian Authority, backed and assisted by European organizations. . . . Likewise, in violation of Israeli law, . . . EU representatives erected light buildings for the Bedouin on state lands. Under pressure from various factors in the EU, the site has even won the protection of Germany’s Prime Minister Angela Merkel.

The Civil Administration’s law-enforcement agencies froze construction on the site and prevented any development or strengthening of dilapidated buildings in the area, preserving the inhumane conditions in which the Bedouin live. However, a large group of settlers from Kfar Adumim came to the aid of their Bedouin neighbors for humanitarian assistance. . . . It turned out that despite the international controversy, the human connection still exists, as it should.

[Recently] reports came of a compromise proposal agreed to by the Bedouin families, according to which the Bedouin would be relocated to the Arad Valley within Israeli territory and near other members of [their] tribe in the area. Those who had been relocated would receive residential land, financial compensation, and permanent-resident status in Israel.

There is no doubt that the proposed agreement will benefit the Bedouin families. Now, the question is whether the Palestinian Authority and the European Union will allow the Bedouin to implement the agreement and improve their living conditions, or whether Khan al-Ahmar will once again be held hostage by a political struggle.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Angela Merkel, Bedouin, Europe and Israel, Palestinian Authority, West Bank

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad