Aug 3, 2009
On the West Bank, near Nablus, Jewish settlers carried out a raid on olive groves belonging to Palestinians, destroying several hundred trees. This was to take revenge on the destruction ... by the Israeli army of homes situated in so-called “illegal” settlements. Soon the Israeli government is supposed to destroy 23 settlement outposts. Soon, that is, according to a promise Israel made to the Bush administration ... five years ago ... to destroy these outposts.
Apparently, the Israeli administration makes haste slowly. U.S. pressure counts for something in this delayed reaction. Not that the declarations of Obama on the Israeli settlement policy are sufficient to impress the Netanyahu administration. But perhaps the Israeli government might worry about the threat of an eventual reduction in U.S. financial aid. Perhaps the U.S. will reduce the bank guarantees it makes, so that it becomes more difficult for Israel to borrow on the financial markets. That might count in a crisis, but it’s nothing new, since the Bush administration did the same thing in 2003 and 2007. And it didn’t change the essential thing: U.S. military aid of 2.7 billion dollars, which allows the Israeli government to buy arms, from the U.S. and elsewhere, to equip an army always on a war footing.
It’s doubtful that the Israeli army and the police will display any zeal in dismantling the outposts. And even if they close them, it will change nothing in the policy of systematic expulsion and the theft of Palestinian land.
Officially, Israel stopped constructing new settlements in 1996. In reality, the settlement construction never ceased. In 1993, at the time of the Oslo Accords, there were 120,000 Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. Today there are more than 300,000 in the West Bank and 187,000 in East Jerusalem. As the Israeli paper Haaretz revealed from an official document censored for “reasons of national security,” more than 75% of the settlements are irregular. There are both private parties and groups that establish themselves on land owned by Palestinians, and even build infrastructure, roads, schools, synagogues and police stations.
The establishment of settlements is a weapon of the Israeli government. As the Israeli anti-settlement movement points out in one of its denunciations, these settlements are set up “to prevent the construction of a Palestinian state by making impossible any territorial continuity.” The objective is to drive out as many Palestinians as possible, to make life impossible for those who find themselves imprisoned in the ghetto-enclaves, and who will have to flee a land that is theirs.