Friday, July 25, 2008

Israel Planning a New Settlement

Israeli officials are moving forward with a plan to build a small new settlement in the West Bank, sparking dismay from the US and outrage from the Palestinian Authority.

Honestly, this is unacceptable behavior by Israel. It is a simply gesture of bad faith, and Palestinians have every right to be upset about it. The new settlement is to be built in the Jordan Valley, an arid, sparsely populated region which has significant strategic value for Israel as a buffer zone between it and Jordan. Israel claims the right to continue building settlements in areas which it will keep under a final status agreement.

No dice, in my opinion. First of all, that's putting the cart before the horse: we don't know the borders of a final agreement until it's, you know, agreed upon. Second, even if this location does end up remaining inside Israel's jurisdiction, what's the rush? Build the new town then -- don't thumb Palestinians in the eye during delicate negotiations. The fact that the settlement is so small -- only 20 houses -- makes it even worse, because it's basically a symbolic middle finger.

The Washington Post article says that Israel is making this move because they assume the current US government is too weak to stop them. They may be right, and I doubt that George W. Bush has the will to prove them wrong. Nonetheless, this is the wrong move at the wrong time, and the US needs to do its best to derail it.

7 comments:

Pablo Kenney said...

David,
I completely agree. Did you see this? http://www.politico.com/blogs/bensmith/0708/Obamas_note.html

About Maariv publishing Obama's prayer from the Western wall? Also read some of the comments, people are rediculous.

St. Michael Traveler said...

The Jerusalem Dilemma: Jews, Christians and Muslims

Obama stated that Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and that he would not see the city divided. The issue of Jerusalem is complex and can not be made by Senator Obama or Israel alone. What are the options?

- The two-state models for Palestine and Israel,
- Federal State of Israel-Palestine
The two-state models for Palestinian and Israeli is not working. Many experts on the Middle Eastern politics and people would suggest that a two state solution in not viable model. We have struggled with it for nearly 60 years.

Should we be looking at the region as a Federal States with one government elected by all of the people? This model may have a much better chance of survival as a solution for both Israeli and Arabs.

We have been forced into one box by the Israeli Lobby; we need to look outside of this box. We can’t afford war after war to support a failed two-state model.

Both Jewish and Palestinians have paid a high price for a failed system to consider the human side of the Israeli-Jewish struggle for a lasting peace.

I suggest that only as one nation, Federal State of Israel-Palestine, the peace may endure. We, Americans, have failed to see the both side of the struggle for a lasting peace. As Semitic people, they have common historical and religious heritage.

Obama made it clear that Jerusalem would remain the capital of Israel and that he would not see the city divided. Those who advocate one-state solution as a Federal State would also suggest Jerusalem as the capital of the Federation.

The advocates for one-state solution stress that under a two-state solution, Jerusalem can not be the capital of Israel. This city is religious holy city belonging to Jews, Muslims and Christians. This city should not be controlled by a theocratic Jewish state; in that case, it should be an open international city.

Cycle Cyril said...

A one state solution, however formulated, would mean the eventual dhimmization of the Jewish and Christian population as it has happen in every other Arab country and as it has already happened on the West Bank. Bethlehem was majority Christian prior to the Oslo accords. Now after 15 years of Moslem rule the Christians have left and not because of Israeli sanctions.

As for historical and religious heritage, Islam has taken various stories and themes from Judaism and Christianity but changed the stories. Usually Moslems will say that Moses and Jesus, among others, were true Moslems delieving the word of God but that the Jews and Christians of the times lied and corrupted their teachings. As a consequence Jews and Christians are considered as pigs and monkeys as well as "those who earn thine anger [and] those who go astray" respectively (as stated in the blessings that Moslems are supposed to recite five times a day.) Moslems respect for their fellow Abrahamic religions is limited to the imposition of Dhimmitude.

Finally Jerusalem only became honored as a holy city by Islam when the British took over following the breakup of the Ottoman empire. Previously it was honored in the breach.

PG said...

"Bethlehem was majority Christian prior to the Oslo accords."

Do you have a citation for this claim? Everything I have seen says that the massive influx of refugees during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War shifted the previously Christian majority to a Muslim one.

Cycle Cyril said...

According to the below references the number of Christians in Bethlehem in 1948 was 28,000 or 90% of the population. In 1967 the number was reduced to 11,000. In other words 17,000 left under Jordanian rule.

In 1990 Christians made up 60% of the population (total numbers are not immediately available). By 2001 this was reduced to 20%.

www.jcpa.org/jl/vp490.htm

www.acpr.org.il/cloakrm/clk117.html

www.science.co.il/arab-israeli-conflict/Articles/Imra-1997-10-30.asp

PG said...

There seems to be considerable confusion about Christians in Bethlehem's shift from majority to minority. Your claim was that Christians were the majority before the Oslo Accords, which took place in August 1993. Unless there was either an influx of Christians back into Bethlehem after 1967, or a major decline in the Muslim population, it wouldn't make sense that the Christians became the majority again after ceasing to be so under Jordanian rule.

Moreover, the departure of Christians from PA-controlled areas could be motivated not only by their treatment by the PA, but also because of the restrictions placed on such areas by Israel. A Christian who chooses to remain in these areas is treated little differently than a Muslim who does; both the Christian and Muslim who live in Bethlehem are encircled by high walls, surrounded checkpoints and roadblocks.

I'm not saying that Palestinian Christians necessarily should get special treatment from Israel. The Vatican, for example, has hardly demonstrated much sympathy for Israel's security needs when those might conflict with preserving a church. Moreover, Christians voluntarily participate in the 15-member city council, which includes eight Christians and seven Muslims by presidential decree. The current mayor is a Christian yet the city's website describes the Oslo Accords as having been impeded by "Israeli extremists."

Having thrown in their lot with the Muslims, however, it's unsurprising that Christians in a West Bank town are trying to get out.

Cycle Cyril said...

Let's do a little math.

If 28,000 represents 90% of the population then 10% would be approximately 3111. Let us assume that in the twenty years of Jordanian rule that the population tripled (though it more likely just doubled)and you get 9333. Thus the remaining 11,000 Christians remain in the majority.

As for why they are moving away the vast majority of them say it is the treatment by their fellow Arabs who are Moslems, not Israelis, that is prompting them to go.

Theoretically on the liberal side of ideological spectrum your thoughts on Israeli malfeasance would be accepted without question. But listen to a few who have experienced reality.