Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Civil War in Israel Over Evacuation of
By Uri Avnery
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, August 5, 2013
IT IS now fashionable to say that “the two-state solution is dead”. Or:
“Time for the two-state solution is running out”.
Why dead? How
dead? It’s one of those things that need no proof. To say it is enough.
If pressed, though, the fake mourners of the two-state solution give a
reason: there are just too many settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
They can’t be removed. It’s just impossible.
EXAMPLES are cited as evidence: the removal of the North Sinai settlements
by Menachem Begin under the peace treaty with Egypt, and the removal of the
Gaza Strip settlements by Ariel Sharon.
How terrible they were!
Remember the heart-rending scenes on TV, the weeping female soldiers
carrying struggling settler girls away, the Auschwitz pajamas with the
yellow star worn by the settlers, the storming of the rooftops, the rabbis
with their Torah scrolls weeping in unison in the synagogues.
this for just a handful of settlements. What will happen if half a million
people have to be removed? Awful! Unthinkable!
Actually, the removal of the Gaza Strip settlers was nothing but a
well-staged tragicomedy. Nobody was killed. Nobody was seriously injured.
Nobody committed suicide, whatever their threats. After playing their
assigned roles, all the settlers left the stage. Only a handful of soldiers
and police officers refused to obey orders. The bulk of the army carried out
the instructions of the democratically elected government.
the same happen again? Not necessarily. Removing West Bank settlers from the
hilltops in the heart of Biblical “Eretz Israel” Is something else.
Let’s look at it from close up.
THE FIRST stage of planning is to
analyze the problem. Who are these settlers that have to be removed?
Well, first of all they are not a homogenous, monolithic force. When one
speaks of “the settlers”, one sees before one’s mind’s eye a mass of
half-crazed, religious fanatics, expecting the messiah at any moment, ready
to shoot anyone who comes to remove them from their strongholds.
This is pure imagination.
There are such settlers, of course. They
are the hard core, the ones who appear on television. The ones who set fire
to mosques in Palestinian villages, who attack Palestinian farmers in their
fields, who fell olive trees. They have long hair, including side locks,
wear the obligatory fringed garment under or over their shirts, dance their
odd dances, are so very, very different from ordinary Israelis.
Almost all of these are new-born Jews (known in Hebrew as “those who go back
in remorse”), and are heartily despised by real orthodox Jews, who would not
marry their daughters to them. But they are a tiny minority.
more important is the so-called ”national-religious” core, the real
leadership of the settlement enterprise. They believe that God has given us
this land, all of it, and many of them believe that God also ordered them to
cleanse all the land between the sea and the river (the Mediterranean and
the Jordan) of non-Jews. Some of them believe, anyhow, that non-Jews are not
full human beings, but something between humans and animals, as held by the
This group has enormous political power. It is they who
dragged successive governments of all parties, into putting them where they
are – sometimes unwillingly, sometimes more than willingly.
concentrated in the smaller settlements, dispersed all over the occupied
territories. They have infiltrated the army and the government apparatus and
terrify the politicians. Their party is the “Jewish Home” led by Naftali
Bennett, the “brother” of Ya’ir Lapid, but they also have close ties with
the upcoming young leadership of the Likud and Lieberman’s crowd.
Any government interested in making peace will have to grapple with them.
But they are a minority among the settlers.
THE MAJORITY of
the settlers are less vocal. They are mostly concentrated in the “settlement
blocs” that are strung along the Green Line, extending a few kilometers
inside the occupied territories.
They are called “quality of life
settlers”, because they went there to enjoy the clean air and the
picturesque sight of Muslim minarets nearby, but mainly because they got
their dream-villas, with the Swiss red-tile roofs, for next to nothing. They
could not dream of ever acquiring anything similar in Israel proper.
A category by itself are the orthodox. Their huge natural increase is
crowding them out of their towns and neighborhoods in Israel proper, and
they desperately need new housing, which the government is only too happy to
provide – in the occupied territories. They already have several towns
there, one of which is Modi’in Illit, the border town which is located on
the lands of Bil’in, the village fighting an epic battle to get them back.
Quite another story is the settlements in East Jerusalem. The hundreds
of thousands of Israeli Jews now living in the new neighborhoods there do
not think of themselves as settlers at all, they have forgotten all about
the Green Line. Indeed, they are quite surprised when reminded of it. It may
be just a few blocks away.
ALL THESE categories - and the many
sub-categories – must be dealt with separately. For each, there is a
Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that in nine
months Kerry’s Dream will come true. There will be a signed peace agreement
solving all problems, with an agreed timetable for implementation.
Let’s further assume that this agreement is approved by a large majority in
an Israeli referendum (and in a Palestinian one, too.) This would give our
government the political and moral power to tackle the settlement problem.
For the Jerusalemites, Bill Clinton had a simple answer: Leave them
where they are. Redraw the map of Jerusalem in such a way that “what is
Jewish will become part of Israel, what is Arab will be part of Palestine”.
Considering the immense difficulty of unscrambling the omelet there,
this has its attractions, especially if full sovereignty over the Temple
Mount and the Old City is restored to the Palestinians (and the Western Wall
with the Jewish Quarter remains in Israel).
For the big
settlement blocs, the solution is already more or less agreed: territorial
swaps. The settlements hard on the border will be annexed by Israel, Israeli
territory of equal size (though, perhaps, not of equal quality) will be
turned over to Palestine.
This may not be quite as easy as it
sounds. Annex the settlements only, or also the land around and between
them? And what about Ariel, the “settlers’ capital”, which is located 20 km
inside the West Bank? A corridor? An enclave? And Ma’aleh Adumim, which, if
annexed to Jewish Jerusalem, would almost cut the West Bank in two? Plenty
to argue about.
The “quality of life” settlers must be bought out.
It’s a simple question of money. Give any of them an equivalent or an even
better apartment near Tel Aviv and most of them will jump at it. Indeed,
some polls have shown that quite a number of them would move even today, if
such an offer were made. (We suggested this to Yitzhak Rabin, but he
There remain the hard-core settlers, the “ideological”
ones, those who serve God by living on stolen land. What about them?
THE SIMPLEST solution was that provided by Charles de Gaulle. After signing
the peace agreement that put an end to the occupation of Algeria after a
hundred years, he announced that the French army would leave the country on
a certain date. He told the more than a million settlers, many of them
fourth or fifth generation: If you want to leave, leave. If you want to
stay, stay. The result was a last minute frantic mass exodus of historic
I can’t imagine an Israeli leader bold enough to follow
that prescription. Even Ariel Sharon, a brutal person without compassion,
didn’t dare to.
Of course, the Israeli government could tell these
settlers: “If you can make arrangements with the Palestinian government so
you can stay there, as Palestinian citizens (or even as Israeli citizens),
by all means do so. ”
Some naïve Israelis say: ”Why not? There are a
million and a half Arab citizens in Israel. Why can’t there be some hundreds
of thousands of Israeli Jews in Palestine?”
Unlikely. The Arabs in
Israel live on their own land, where they have lived for centuries. The
settlers live on “expropriated” land, and they have justly earned the hatred
of their neighbors. I don’t see how a Palestinian government could allow it.
There remains the hard core of the hard core. Those who will not
budge without violence. They will have to be removed forcibly by a strong
government supported by the bulk of public opinion, expressed through the
A civil war? Not really.
Nothing like the American Civil War, nor like the present Syrian one. But
still a hard, violent, brutal struggle, in which blood will be shed.
Do I look forward to it? Certainly not. Does it frighten me? Yes it
does. Do I think it means we should give up the future of Israel, give up
peace, give up the two-state solution, the only solution there is?