Dealing With Settlements:It Is Already Too Late
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
While the Israeli Government appears to be totally focused on convincing the U.S. Congress to block the Iran deal, there are an array of very serious domestic issues which the Netanyahu Government is ignoring and avoiding in a remarkably cavalier and ad hoc manner; until they reach a crisis. Two of the incidents involve the settler movement, increased settlements, High Court decisions, confrontations between settlers and the military, and horrific terrorist actions apparently perpetrated by settlers—apparently—against Palestinians.
The Arab world has argued for years that settlements are the key to making peace with Israel. For years as well, Washington has also suggested that addressing the settlement issue was one of the keys to moving ahead with peace talks. As has been clear for some time, the settlement issue is not being addressed constructively by Netanyahu and the events of this week only confirmed this fact. The Netanyahu Government is in a total avoidance mode in being unwilling to truly face the consequences of what needs to be done to prepare the nation for eventual dismantlement of settlements.
Specifically the confrontation at the settlement of Beit El this week demonstrated how dangerous and ugly could and will likely be the efforts to dismantle settlements. Troops that were sent following a court order to demolish two unfinished apartment buildings at Beit El were met by settlers preparing—according to the instructions from some of their rabble-rousers—to go to war with the Israeli army rather than permit these construction sites built on Palestinian land from being taken down. Such hatred exhibited by Jews against the Jewish army did not lead to bloodshed but certainly signaled the potential for violence ahead.
What followed this morning suggested the extremes to which some of presumed settlers will go in any future confrontation with Palestinians on the West Bank. In a so-called “price-tag” attack, firebombs were set off in two Arab homes—one of which was empty—early in the morning resulting in the death of a 1 ½ year old Arab child and critically wounding the other three members of the family. Such terrorist activities suggest how future initiatives to create a mutually acceptable understanding between Jews and the Arabs may be met by at least some of the settlers.
The Iran agreement is very serious and needs much attention from the Government. In addition, so does Charedi attacks against a peaceful gay pride parade. The failure of repeated Israeli Governments, however, to deal with the extremely hot button political issue of settlements and to prepare settlers to the eventual and inevitable Jewish withdraw from some West Bank communities may now be coming home to roost. The events this week may well be the harbinger of much more violence and terrorism to come from every direction.