Monday, September 07, 2009

Israel Approves Community Construction Project

Nowhere in the world does the construction of homes get at much scrutiny as in Israel and the territories in the West Bank. Israel approved construction of 455 homes. That's got top billing at Drudge Report for the moment, and it also has significant coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post, and other major outlets.


The construction of new Israeli communities is not now, and has never been, a stumbling block to a peace deal.

Let's start with the basics. Note that the media reports call these settlements, even if they are nothing more than homes approved by the government to expand existing communities. They are also homes. Nothing more.

Homes can change ownership. Israel has proven that twice - and the lessons have not apparently been learned by the media covering such instances.

In the first, Israel withdrew from major communities in Sinai as part of the comprehensive peace accord between Israel and Egypt in 1979. Israel forcibly removed its citizens from those communities in the name of peace.

In the second, Israel again forcibly removed Israeli citizens from communities located in Gaza, as part of the 2005 Gaza disengagement plan. That too was in the name of peace, but the Gazans instead turned those communities into terror training camps, rocket and mortar launching platforms, and generally destroyed the infrastructure that remained.

Yet, the media and the Obama Administration are trying to get Israel to curtail the construction of these homes to restart the peace process. The problem remains, as it has been, that Israel lacks a partner in peace. The Palestinian Authority has refused to accept two comprehensive offers for peace - without even the courtesy of a counterproposal. Arafat refused to accept a deal in 2000. Abbas refused to accept a similar deal from Olmert last year. Both would have led to a 2-state solution, but neither would have given the Palestinians what they want most - the ability to resettle in Israel and fundamentally alter the demographics to an extent that it would destroy Israel's very character within a matter of years.

When Israel finally has a partner for peace that accepts a two-state solution with Israel as a Jewish state alongside the Palestinians, then the peace process will actually move forward. The whole kerfuffle over home construction is a sideshow designed to confuse and obfuscate the true nature of the ongoing conflict, which at its core boils down to the fact that the Palestinians refuse to accept Israel's existence at all. Hamas and Fatah both refuse to accept this; both refuse to accept the goals of Oslo.

Hamas has no intention of relinquishing control over Gaza, where they're under assault from terrorists who are even more extreme than they are. Those terrorists want to turn Gaza into an Islamic emirate and are aligned and affiliated with al Qaeda. There's no incentive for them to moderate their views, all while they keep Gazans impoverished and have such a reckless disdain for human life. Hamas sees Gazans as nothing more than cannon fodder and propaganda opportunities.

Fatah maintains a veneer of legitimacy, but that's only when compared to Hamas. They maintain a grip on the West Bank only because the West continues to support the regime, while many on the ground are more radical and support Hamas. The occasional outbreak of violence between Hamas and Fatah shows that the deep divisions among the Palestinians remains, and the fact that Hamas and Fatah leaders manage to live a comfortable existence while keeping many of their fellow Palestinians in refugee camps in the hopes of resettling them inside Israel (beyond the Green Line) shows the delusional nature of the Palestinian aspirations and goals.

The Obama Administration's push to move forward on the peace process shows that he sides with Palestinian aspirations and engages in the pseudoreality that diplomats have labored under for years. They ignore the rhetoric and propaganda spewing forth from Palestinian and Arab media sources calling for Israel's destruction, while playing up the few ambivalent words calling for a 2-state solution. It's the words spoken by Palestinian leaders to the Palestinians that carry the real weight. When Palestinian leaders have called for Israel's destruction for generations, it becomes ingrained and part of the very psyche of the Palestinian polity. A Palestinian leader who pursues peace under those circumstances is facing a death sentence. He will not last long in the face of pressure from his own group, let alone the more extremist terrorists. They will not labor to fulfill a peace deal, because that too would mean confronting terrorists within their midst who consider anyone who isn't pursuing Israel's destruction openly and overtly to be an appeaser and sellout of Palestinian nationhood.

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