By Shimon Z. Klein    

There seems to be a certain inconsistency in what the Israeli government tells the world about settlements in the occupied territories and what occurs on the ground. 

While PM Binyamin Netanyahu reacted to President Obama’s Cairo Speech by giving ambiguous support to the two-state solution, we all know that he does not intend to do anything to remove illegal settlements. His Bar Ilan University speech was so full of conditions for a two-state solution that would render it an impossible goal. It is obvious that the Palestinian leadership would never accept these conditions. 

Meanwhile the demolitions of Palestinian buildings continue. On 13th July 2009, bulldozers entered Bet Hanina next to the community centre. Demolitions of homes have occurred in Ras Elamud and Isawia. A home was destroyed. This has resulted in seven family members now being rendered homeless. Has the Israeli government frozen settlements and ceased demolition of homes? Facts on the ground seem to verify that the demolitions of Palestinian homes are continuing. The excuse given is that these homes were built illegally (or without permits). What about illegal settlements built in the occupied territories? These settlements are illegal according to international law, but Israeli law has declared them legal.  

There is also strong evidence that freezing of settlements is not the order of the day. It is business as usual in the occupied territories. The construction of new homes and settlements expansion continue unabated. What the Israeli government tells the US and what they do in practice are two different things altogether. Many settlements built in the occupied territories are on stolen Palestinian lands.

 The basis of the right wing government is to create a new situation on the ground. It is obvious that the expansion of existing settlements and the creation of new settlements on stolen Palestinian lands will ensure that a Palestinian state alongside Israel will never be attained.  

The arrogance of the Israeli government of not recognizing the Palestinian right to an independent state is a fact because of the settlement activity compounded by demolitions of Palestinian homes.  

The scenarios are all the same. Zionist right wing extremists start the ball rolling by causing damage to Palestinian agricultural lands. This is done by uprooting Palestinian owned olive trees. As if this is not enough, they continue to cause damage to Palestinian property. They are a cancer in Israeli society that has tacit support from the right wing coalition partners. The Israeli authorities are very lenient and many of those responsible for the damage are not even punished. 

Israel occupied Palestinian territories because of the Six Day War in June 1967. The Israeli government ruling at the time and successive governments after that legalized the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories. After encouraging Israelis to settle on usurped Palestinian lands they tell the world that they do not wish to rule another people. De facto, this is what they are doing! One does not settle occupied territory if the intention is to return this territory to the Palestinians.  

If one were to look at a map of the West Bank (which is the area of the possible Palestinian State), there are areas of Palestinian population with Israeli settlements in between. How can a Palestinian state be established while hostile Israeli settlements traverse their agricultural lands, many of which were occupied illegally. It is obvious that the establishment of a Palestinian state under these conditions is impossible without serious removal of illegal settlements.  

Contrary to the thinking of most Israelis, President Obama is good for Israel. He is mending US relations with the Arab states and adopting a more even handed policy in the Middle East. His attitude towards Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is against the policies of the Netanyahu coalition of right wingers with the wimpish Labour Party part of it. It remains to be seen how the Israeli government will avoid a collision with the US. President Obama is taking a more active stand in his attitude towards achieving peace between Israel and its neighbors. His predecessor, President Bush did very little to achieve peace.  

One thing is certain, if there is no withdrawal from the occupied territories including dismantling of settlements, there will never be peace. Of course there will be Israelis who will say that there was unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and the result was rocket fire into Israeli towns such as Sderot, Ashkelon and neighboring towns. The problem is that the moment there are unilateral actions there are no peace agreements. Had there been an orderly transfer of power to a responsible Palestinian government committed to peace, law and order, the situation would be different.  

Israel must share the blame for the creation of Hamas which is an extension of the extremist Egyptian Moslem Brotherhood. Prior to the Oslo Accords, Israel adopted a “divide and rule” policy towards Hamas. The government in the late 1980s supported Hamas in order to weaken the PLO. It boomeranged in the end. 

According to United Press International,

Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel wanted to radicalize the dispute by molding Hamas into a fundamentalist militant crusade to ape the Khomeini revolution in Iran. So much so that Israel groomed potential Hamas leaders, pressuring Israeli authorities to give them licenses to set up food kitchens, clinics, schools, and day-care centers, to create a governing structure alternative to Arafat’s Fatah. These were known as Village Leagues – and provided future Hamas operatives with a political and governmental foothold. This began in 1978 when Prime Minister Menachem Begin, himself a former terrorist leader, approved an application from Sheik Ahmad Yassin to license the Islamic Association, which would later produce a military wing, Hamas, in 1987. The Israeli Likud party propped up Yassin because they both had the same agenda, to destabilize Arafat’s Fatah.       

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