Thursday, August 31, 2006

The settler issue is a non-issue, Israeli Arabs are the proof

Everyone makes a big deal about Israeli settlers. But this is a complete non-issue.

About 15% of Israel's population is Arabs, most living in Arab towns spread throughout Israel. (Note that I'm talking about Arab citizens in mainstream Israel, not in the West Bank or Gaza.) All have the right to vote, and there are several Arab members of Israeli Parliament, all elected through due process.

Why can't a Palestinian state be started in the West Bank, with Jewish settlements remaining in place similar to Arab towns in Israel? These Jews might choose to leave, or might choose to stay and live within the newly formed Palestinian state as a minority. If Arabs can stay and live in Israel, why can't Jews stay in settlements in the West Bank?

Now, we all know that this will never happen, because the Palestinians will kill them all. But let's admit reality: there's no rational difference between Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Arab towns in mainstream Israel, and Jewish settlers would not receive the same rights in a Palestinian state that Israeli Arabs receive in Israel. This is proven by the fact that the Palestinians insist that Jewish settlements be removed.

Bottom line, this is a theoretical argument, because Israel will forcably move settlers if it would help bring peace, as we did in Gaza. But it's important to realize that the settlers aren't the issue preventing a Palestinian state, the problem is the lack of Palestinian desire to live with a two-state solution, and a lack of Palestinian desire to really build a country.

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