Goldblog reader Mordechai Shinefield makes some obvious points about flaws in the settlement boycott notion, lately advanced by Peter Beinart:
I've been thinking about Beinart's plan a lot over the last couple of days and putting aside other issues, it seems to me to be a completely unserious plan for the following reasons:
1. The humanitarian crisis is in Gaza, not the West Bank, but boycotting settlements will do absolutely nothing for Gaza.
2. Even if it helped Gaza (or even if we said it didn't matter as long as it positively impacted the West Bank), Dead Sea cosmetics and Gush wine are not large enough industries that a boycott would have any impact on settlement economies and that's primarily because...
3. The settlements exist because the real estate is very cheap and affordable, and because it is in close proximity to Jerusalem. Unless the boycott includes a provision to airlift the West Bank somewhere else, it won't solve those issues. Even if it bankrupts the few settlement companies, they'll continue to settle and just commute to work in Israel proper (which the boycott doesn't address).
4. Everyone agrees that some of these settlements (particularly the established ones that would be most targeted by a boycott) will be a part of a final land swap! The settlements you want to impact are the small, new, hilltop ones that have no industry to speak of and can't be affected by a boycott.
Putting aside all the other discussions about Beinart and the boycott, i think that unless I'm missing something, the above points should pretty much disqualify his plan from serious conversation. It's just fantasyland absurd.
Borders -- those are the issue, in my opinion. I used to think settlements were a main stumbling block. But they can be bypassed. If you can negotiate the borders of Palestine, the settlement problem dissipates. It gets ugly, also -- the extremists will make sure of that -- but it's obvious that settlements are secondary. Settlements that are outside the negotiated border will have to be dismantled (or their residents will have to take Palestinian citizenship) and those settlements inside the border become normal communities within Israel. We just have to get back to negotiations. I'm hoping President Obama, if he's reelected, will be visiting Israel and the West Bank by spring of next year to lay out his vision of how the two sides need to act.