Krieger's critique focuses on this quote from my piece: "There are just too many settlements, interconnected by too many roads that restrict the
movement of too many Palestinians, for a two-state deal to result in anything Palestinians could proudly call a 'state.'"
Krieger agrees with me that a two-state solution would require uprooting the vast majority of the West Bank's settlements--but, he notes, this doesn't
mean uprooting the vast majority of settlers. Since most of the settlers live in big settlement blocks fairly close to the 1967 "green line,"
Israel could keep just 2 or 3 or 4 percent of the West Bank (and give Palestine compensatory chunks of Israel proper), and thus leave around 75 percent
of the settlers where they are.
OK, fine. But, according to Krieger's numbers, this would still involve uprooting 125,000 settlers! If anyone considers this a readily doable project,
I recommend going to Hebron, where fewer than one percent of those 125,000 live, and asking the settlers whether they'd go peacefully. Compounding
their assured intransigence is that the Israeli army, which would be doing the extracting, is itself increasingly populated by intensely religious
settlement supporters, some of whom say they won't carry out settler-eviction orders.
All of this helps explain why last week at the J-Street Conference, the Israeli scholar Menachem Klein, who was an adviser to the Barak government,
opined that a two-state deal could spark a civil war within Israel. "Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated during an interim agreement when he had not
evacuated a single settlement," he said. "Israelis will use arms to resist an agreement even if there were a referendum supporting it."
But this is almost beside the point. Warning how hard it would be to uproot the settlements is like warning how hard it would be for the American
government to confiscate the TV sets of all citizens. No government is going to try to do it anyway!
Look, the several two-state plans Krieger summarizes are very laudable, but could we get back to the real world and take a look at actual Israeli politics? The current
government seems determined to avoid even embarking on negotiations with the Palestinians and meanwhile is (like past governments) increasing the
number of settlers, thus not only creating more "facts on the ground" but expanding Israel's already formidable pro-settlement constituency.
Is it possible that, notwithstanding the current drift of Israeli politics, this right-wing government could eventually give way to a government well
to its left? Sure, but so what? I was in Tel Aviv this summer when the Israeli left was having its version of Occupy Wall Street. Progressives were
alive with a new energy and were talking about all kinds of issues that they felt had been ignored during the left's dormancy. Except for one issue:
Palestine. Discussing that, they explained, would "divide the left." Well if the left can't deal with the issue, what part of the Israeli political
spectrum are we counting on?