Eldar on Settlements


I went this morning to a discussion with Akiva Eldar, notorious anti-semite Haaretz columnist and co-author of Lords of the Land, a new book (new in English, at any rate) about the Israeli settlements in the post-1967 era. He had a good line about the incompatibility of the settlement policy with the Zionist dream of a secure, democratic Jewish state, noting that commitment to the policy had made Israel "less Jewish, less democratic, and less secure."

Beyond that he had the striking observation that since Israel signed on to the "road map" and thereby committed to dismantling "unauthorized" settlement outposts (i.e., the ones that are illegal under Israeli law) only nine houses have been removed. Meanwhile, he said that while just two percent of the Occupied Territories are actually under settlement control, a much larger swathe of the West Bank is now off-limits to Arabs, either because it's been set aside for further settlement expansion or else because it's part of the network of no-Arabs-allowed roads that connect the settlements, etc.

On the flipside, he observed that the Balfour Declaration came in 1917, the UN plan for a Jewish state came in 1947, Sadat's visit to Israel came in 1977, so we're due for good news in 2007, possibly out of the peace conference scheduled to be held in November in Annapolis.