From Yediot, further ridiculousness from settler leaders, who have no sense whatsoever about the actual threats facing Israel, and no sense at all of how they sound to the world, and to their fellow Jews:
The demand to prevent natural growth in settlements is unreasonable and is akin to Pharaoh's demand that all firstborn sons be thrown into the Nile River," said Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz ahead of Sunday's weekly cabinet meeting.
"What will we say to a family living with one child, which now has four or five children? That the children will move to Petah Tikva? The Americans must understand that this is an unreasonable demand, and we must confront them firmly," he added.
Where to begin with this nonsense? With the implicit accusation that Barack Obama is pharaoh (which makes Hillary his vizier, or something)? Since the United States partially underwrites Israel, it has the right to make certain demands; since this demand is something that the majority of Israelis, in any case, understand, it's hard to see this as something akin to slavery. Here's the thing: The settlers are arguing that their human rights would be violated if they were made to move to Israel. That's right. It used to be that a person could fulfill his Zionist destiny in a place like Petah Tikva, but no more: Now, it's a sin against God, apparently, to live anywhere but in a government-subsidized trailer on a barren hill in the mountains of Samaria.
I don't have any problem with the American demand for a settlement freeze; the settlements are an impediment to peace, they are a security burden, and they are petri dishes for the worst sort of fundamentalist messianism (and therefore profoundly anti-Zionist, at least according to the Zionist vision of men like Herzl and Ben-Gurion).
Now, of course, there should be some delineating going on here -- everyone knows that most settlements would actually become part of Israel in a final peace deal. So these settlements should probably be allowed natural growth. But only if the settlements beyond the security barrier, the settlements in the heart of the Arab West Bank that everyone and his rabbi knows will soon dissapear, are frozen in place, and only if Israel acknowledges that the security fence marks the de facto border of the state of Palestine.
Israel and its friends in America know that the only hope for a two-state solution come in the form of an empowered and moderate Palestinian Authority. Is there a good chance that the Palestinian Authority isn't, in fact, moderate? Is there a good chance the Palestinian Authority will never be powerful? Yes. But this is the only hope. And one of the the surest ways Israel, and America, could help make the Palestinian Authority more powerful is to freeze settlements now. Israel faces a threat to its existence in the form of the Iranian nuclear program. It doesn't face a threat from the demand that a small number of Israelis eventually leave the West Bank and live in Petah Tikva.
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