Op-Ed: The "Small Settlements" are Essential for Peace
Giulio MeottiThe writer, an Italian journalist with Il Foglio, writes a twice-weekly...
To understand the suicidal impulse of Israel's establishment one has to read a new report prepared by the Institute for National Security Studies. "A massive evacuation of settlements located outside the large settlement blocs, home to about 100,000 residents, will be necessary if future Israeli governments seek (or are required to) implement the principle implied by two states for two peoples", we read in this special report from one of Israel's leading think tanks.
In recent years, Benjamin Netanyahu has made several statements that endorsed a "two-state solution" and showed he understood that a peace agreement with the Palestinian Arabs would require removal of many so-called "settlements".
If the Oslo Agreements have set the stage for the creation of a Palestinian Arab state, Netanyahu's Wye Memorandum has gone a significant step toward solidifying the sovereignty of that state through important concessions. It has granted the Palestinian entity a more coherent geographical configuration, encompassing a greater degree of territorial contiguity.
It seems Netanyahu is now prepared to give up as much as 90% of Judea and Samaria in a deal with the Palestinian Authority.
Everybody knows that if you forfeit the Jewish towns outside the largest of the bourgeoise blocs, the whole of Judea and Samaria will be lost. Doing this encompasses the betrayal of promises made to the people of Israel, the betrayal of the Jewish inhabitants of Judea and Samaria and the hitherto greatest threat to Israel's security.
The most isolated, smaller communities control the highest mountains and the strategic hilltops which protect the Israeli coast. These isolated and remote "settlements", which lie in the heartlands of Judea and Samaria adjacent to major cities such as Nablus, Ramallah, el-Bireh, Bethlehem and Hevron, are also the only ones which permit Israel to keep the control over the Jewish religious holy sites.
Whoever cedes Yitzhar and the rest of what are termed "side of the mountain ridge" communities (at the high spots on the East Samaria mountain range separating the Jordan Valley from the coastal and central region of Israel) will bring Katyusha rockets on Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers. Yitzhar on the map also means an access to Joseph's Tomb, Judaism's fourth most important holy site.
Giving up all of Judea and Samaria except for the "settlement blocs" would present a clear and present danger to the rest of the country.
In Peduel, a Jewish "settlement" half an hour from central Tel Aviv and located on top of a mountain in the Samaria region, there is a scenic spot which Ariel Sharon used to call “the balcony of Israel”. Rockets can easily be launched to central Tel Aviv from that "balcony" if you get tired of the view.
In a report to the Secretary of Defense in 1967, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff wrote that, at a minimum, "Israel would need a defense line generally along the Bardala-Tuba-Nablus-Bira-Jerusalem axis, and then to the northern part of the Dead Sea. This line would widen the narrow portion of Israel and provide additional terrain for the defense of Tel Aviv."
That is why Peres launched the project; Begin advanced it and Sharon completed it.
The consequences of abandoning the communities on the mountain ridge, Har Bracha, Itamar, Yitzhar, Elon Moreh, and others in strategic locations such as Karmei Tzur, and Kiryat Arba, will be that Palestinian Arabs with weapons will be circulating freely in areas 3-5 kilometers from Rosh Ha'Ayin, Shoham, and Petach Tikvah, from Modiin, Afula, Efrat and Jerusalem.
If it comes to pass, t is almost certain that the first community they will try to uproot will be Negohot, west of Hevron. The same fate for Mevo Dotan and Shavei Shomron (north of Shechem), al relatively small 'yishuvim', communities, isolated, surrounded largely by territories under PA control. Ateret, with its unique musical yeshiva for high school boys, also "bothers" the Arabs, since it is a community between two large Arab blocs - Bir Zeit and Salfit. Kokhav HaShachar and Rimonim are in danger as a result of the Arab desire to connect the Jericho bloc with Ramallah, cutting off these 'yishuvim' from Jerusalem.
Karmei Tzur , P'nei Chever, Otniel (with its large and popular hesder yeshiva), and Beit Haggai (with its renowned children-at-risk facility) will be on the chopping block, and the eviction of these communities will mean the end of a Jewish presence in the southern Hevron hills.
From Mount Halhoul's peak, more than 1,000 metres (3,280 feet) above sea level, Israeli military monitors can see clear into Jordan. The peak is the highest in Judea and Samaria, a natural bastion and watchtower.
In Nablus in the north, Jebel (Mount) Hureish, Mount Eval and Mount Gerizim, all between 800 and 900 metres high, offer a wide view to the east, towards Jordan.
In Jerusalem, Mount Scopus and the Mount of Olives stand 800 metres above sea level. And 1,000-metre-high Baal Hatzor (where tradition has it that God told Abraham to look in four directions to see the land his children would inherit) near Ramallah north of Jerusalem, commands the centre of the "West Bank".
By placing Hawks in the Eastern Foothills of the mountain ranges, rather than 50 kilometers back in Israel proper, Israeli military planners effectively double their range. The idea is to intercept hostile aircraft over Jordan, not Tel Aviv.
50 kilometers are not much, but they are better than 0.
And which Jewish towns permit the military control of these areas? Not the "settlements' blocs", but the villified and isolated "Jewish outposts".
The strategic area consists of a belt running north-south, from the Gilboa mountain range to Beersheba. At night, from Har Bracha, you can see the lights from coastal cities of Ashkelon in the south and Hadera in the north.
Down below Har Bracha, Sheikh Bitaw in the A-Nasar mosque located in Nablus declared that "Chechen's Jihad is not terrorism". Destroy the "settlements" and you will have Osama Bin Laden.
That is why the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) Council and the area's Jewish residents' public opinion drive should concentrate on building and protecting Jewish life outside the blocs. A national campaign of disobedience is the only way to protect Judea and Samaria.
"If there is a linkage between Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, I personally believe it actually runs the other way," Barack Obama said in a press conference with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
It is Yitzhar-for-Bushehr, or the "settlement" in Samaria in exchange for the nuclear reactor in southwestern Iran, he implies.
False. The road to Iran doesn't pass through "Palestine". It is Israel's future that passes through a half million "settlers" in Judea and Samaria.