The Settlements Are Not the Problem; It is Abbas

The United Nations, the European Union, the United States, and the Israeli left argue that the settlements prevent peace from happening. Their argument states that if the settlement construction freezes indefinitely, then the Palestinian-Arabs under Mahmoud Abbas would come to the negotiation table and end the conflict. Now that Netanyahu hopes to approve new settlement permits in Judea and Samaria, the international community will likely create a media frenzy condemning Israel.

Whether the world chooses to accept it or not, the facts torpedo their erroneous charges of the settlements preventing peace. The Gaza withdrawal demonstrates how Jewish presence solely in disputed territories averts peace. In the summer of 2005, all of the Jewish settlements and soldiers left the Gaza Strip as a peaceful gesture towards the “two-state solution.” The disengagement opened the doors to allow Palestinian-Arabs to determine their own future without any additional interference. That experiment resulted in Hamas winning elections in 2006, a sharp increase in rocket attacks, and a hostile takeover that caused Palestinian factions to kill each other. In other words, it resulted in the antithesis of peace. The removal of Israeli settlements did not result in peace, rather an extension of violence that continues to this day. If the settlements constituted the true obstacle to peace, then Gaza would not have turned into a terrorist base.

The sadder reality remains that the issue of Jews living in their rightful homeland goes back farther than the Palestinian-Arab question. Since before the days of the Balfour Agreement, Jewish immigration to Judea caused rifts between Jews and other Arab populations. The rising anti-Jewish sentiment within the Arab world culminated in pogroms in Chevron, the Nabi Musa riots, other anti-Semitic actions, and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem pledging allegiance to Nazism. These Jew-hating sentiments never lost its legitimacy within the Arab world, and it led to groups like the PLO to organize a movement to destroy the Jewish state of Israel. Therefore, to avoid the reality that Arab opposition to Jews living in Judea causes a profound effect on peace negotiations while simultaneously blaming “settlements” as the cause of tensions is not only lazy, but also ignorant.

However, an obstacle to peace between Palestinian-Arabs and Israelis does exist. Unfortunately, the international community fails to acknowledge it. It takes the name of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who resides in Ramallah sitting on millions of dollars of foreign aid that he stole from his people. He helped create a unity government between his party, Fatah, and the genocidal terrorist organization Hamas. This same man praised the terrorist who murdered a 3-month-old baby and one other innocent civilian last week. On top of that, he continues to praise terrorists as “heroes,” and has declared that he will not recognize the existence of Israel as a Jewish state. He stood on the podium of the United Nations and charged Israel with the false charges of “genocide” and of “apartheid.” He has also done nothing to prevent his people from rioting in the streets of Jerusalem and ensure that chaos keeps both Palestinian-Arabs and Israelis in harm’s way.

Despite the facts that the 79-year-old kleptocrat does not care about peace, the rest of the world contends that Israel bares the responsibility of lacking peaceful initiative. Some organizations, like J Street, preach that Abbas is a true “partner for peace.” However, such delusions not only prevent true dialogue from occurring, but it also prevents reality from influencing the actions of Western governments.

As European countries continue to make symbolic gestures recognizing “Palestine,” it has no problem with condemning the actions of average Jews trying to make a living in their homeland. In a world where liberal values should be championed and protected, the Western world has turned a blind eye to the only beacon of liberalism in the Middle East and condemned it for allowing its people to live with prosperity in land promised to them nearly a century ago. Such gestures only galvanize anti-Zionists and anti-Semites to continue engaging in disturbing, violent, and even lethal behaviors.

The only way that the world can institute change in the attitudes of Israelis and Palestinian-Arabs to stop the violence and end the tensions is to address the true obstacles to peace. It starts by acknowledging that the settlements are not the problem; it is Mahmoud Abbas and his refusal to stop those he governs from wreaking havoc on Israeli society. Once the world finally recognizes the facts, then it can talk about a more realistic, viable solution to end the decades-long tensions between Palestinian-Arabs and Israelis.

About the Author
Elliott Hamilton is a JD/MPH candidate at Boston College Law School and Tufts University School of Medicine. He was credited as a researcher in the 2016 film "Hate Spaces: The Politics of Intolerance on Campus."