The illegal settlement of Amona is situated deep in the occupied West Bank. This territory has been designated by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, by the Arab League, the US, nations of the world as part of the area for an eventual independent Palestinian state in the framework of a two-state solution.
The story of Amona is in many ways the story of the nation of Israel’s slide from a home and refuge of the Jewish people into the abyss of an apartheid-type state. We are at the point where the rocks are crumbling. We are hanging on with our bare fingers and freefall is about to begin.
The two-state solution has been accepted and recognized as a road to peace by three consecutive presidents of the United States, by the world community at large and even by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. So why is it that the government of Israel, its cabinet members and the ruling party’s Knesset members completely reject it, and thus work to undermine any attempt to reach peace?
The answer in one word is “settlements.” There are several factors at play and sadly they all resemble a condition that most enlightened nations of the world reject outright: colonialism. Let’s look at few basic characteristics that generate this drive:
- Power: When nations achieved military and financial power in the 19th century, they leveraged that power to acquire assets in the undeveloped world. Following the Six Day War when Israel emerged from a nation under threat of complete destruction, as the most powerful nation in the Middle East, the first undertaking was occupation of territory, namely Jerusalem, the West Bank, Sinai and the Golan Heights. As the belligerent Arab states had initiated the war, Israel was entitled under international law to temporarily occupy lands captured. While a peace agreement was made with Egypt, the West Bank remained occupied.
- Religious and ideological drives: The heart of Jewish religion, culture and history are at source not on the coastline but in the very center of the geographical area that makes up Israel-Palestine today. Jerusalem and the holy sites are deeply woven into Jewish religion and are mentioned daily in prayers, as they have been for two thousand years. Most, if not all this biblical land is in what is now known as the West Bank. From this occupation, has emerged a messianic movement of nationalist orthodox Jews who believe that proactive settlement and realization of biblical messages will indeed bring forward the coming of the Messiah.
- Exploitation of natural and human resources: There is no gold, silver or platinum on the barren slopes of the West Bank. There are no great forests or vast plains. But there are two major resources that are extremely scarce in this part of the world. One is real estate, namely land for housing. The other is cheap labor. The insanely expensive price of housing in central Israel, has propelled many people who have little or no interest in the ideological motivators to purchase land and apartments at rock bottom prices in occupied territory, subsidized by Government, settlement financiers abroad and public agencies who have secretly channeled funds towards this end. With respect to labor, the difference between Palestinian GDP per capita, to that of Israel is $1600 to $36,000. That’s 2,200%. No need to elaborate…
- Geostrategic and defense needs: As long as the Arab world is under threat and plagued by internal insurrection and instability, it is doubtful that any Israeli government will be comfortable giving up territory deep in the hinterland of Israel, that either borders on Jerusalem or is perched several kilometers from Tel Aviv. In addition, we can safely presume that almost half of the Palestinian population supports the Islamic supremacist movement, Hamas, that advocates the complete destruction of Israel. Israel comfortably leverages this strategic exigency, albeit justified, as a foundation for settlement even though the settlements provide no security at all, rather they impede and distract military surveillance with civilian exposure and incessant domestic needs.
So, why is the story of Amona relevant? Amona was built on privately owned Palestinian land. Some might call it stolen land. The Israeli High Court has recognized this aberrant reality and ruled the dismantling of the outpost and evacuation of the property, yet the government of Israel has done all in its power to halt the process. The literal deconstruction of Amona is the ideological deconstruction of the settler endeavor and threatens its ideological foundation. It exposes its ill-gotten gains achieved by knowing deceit and complicit support by government. The nod-and-wink colonialist endeavor, powered by an ultra-nationalist settler movement, drags an entire country and the Jewish people at large towards minority rule of a majority of Arab people between the sea and the Jordan river. It renders impossible any hope of a two-state solution or of a peaceful agreement with our Palestinian neighbors.
The Obama Administration’s decision not to veto the UN Security Council resolution 2334, has nothing to do with not supporting Israel. It has nothing to do with Israel’s survival. It has nothing to do with the sales talk by Netanyahu claiming it’s a decision against Israel accessing its holy sites or Jerusalem. It is a position taken by every president of the US including Bush senior, George W. Bush, Clinton and Obama — that Israel needs to stop illegal settlement in the West Bank and enable, indeed lead, a peace process.
Netanyahu appeared in a shrill rant on TV. His hair was puffed and painted a sudden blond, sweeping across his bald scalp (familiar?) while vilifying Obama. The same Obama that enabled the sale of F35s to Israel; the same Obama whose administration initiated and approved a $38 billion aid package to Israel; the same administration that invested two years of work in trying to reach a peace deal between Netanyahu and Abbas and was laughed out the door and bombarded with new settlement plans every time talks were initiated. The government of Israel has now placed its hopes squarely on a crackpot and the greatest scam artist on earth who is about to enter the White House. Good Luck.