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Gush Shalom: Barak Peace Plan


The settlements on the West Bank were designed for specific strategic reasons. A few of the settlement sites are associated with Talmudic references and are claimed by Jewish settlers as rightfully theirs as part of their Covenant with God. Most of them do not, however - their locations were selected for military and economic control reasons.

The settlement plan was devised in 1977. After waiting some time to see it there would be international outrage at the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the Israelis gauged that they could capitalize on the relative lack of western interest and on their complete military control of the region. The U.S. could be counted on to support, or at least not oppose, any action Israel might take.

Ariel Sharon, together with several hardened veterans of the war, devised the settlement plan and Sharon himself drew the conceptual map. The plan was simple: to run settlements out in three control corridors deep into Arab territory and to build a "wall" of settlements along the borders with Israel, Jordan, Syria and Egypt. These "civilian" settlements would serve as bases for potential military actions but more importantly they would serve to control Palestinian development growth and economic potential. Sharon's plan for the West Bank, as is described here, was published as a report to the Knesset in 1977 under the title "A Vision For Israel in the 21st Century." As Defense Minister, as Housing Minister and now as Prime Minister he has stuck strictly to the plan as he described it in that document.

Here in America, many people conceive of the settlements as a few isolated apartment blocks. In fact, every settlement is surrounded by a very large "township" controlled by the settler's group. Even larger areas are controlled by the Settlers Council and are reserved for future Jewish development (needless to say, the indigenous natives are strictly banned from these areas). Together with the smaller military bases and reservations, the amount of terrority of the West Bank controlled by the Israelis' is nearly 40%! (

Further, the roads for the settlers to travel back and forth to Israel would serve to cut the Arab areas into more easily controlled districts, thus allowing IDF control of all travel, commerce, economic growth etc.

From the beginning there was strong international protest against the settlements including Europe, the U.N. and the rest of the world. Only the U.S. failed to attempt to stop them and even so, official U.S. policy from the beginning has been that the settlements are illegal, unnecessary and a major obstacle to peace. They are also a direct violation of the Geneva Convention, which states that no land of conquered territories can be confiscated, built on or settled by citizens of the conquering state (this addresses even the bellicose statements of Israeli supporters who trumpet that "we conquered the West Bank"). The Geneva Convention also states that no civilians shall be displaced nor shall any of their housing or businesses be destroyed. Since the Oslo Accord, 6,000 Palestinian homes have been bulldozed or demolished with explosives or artillery. 250,000 producing olive trees have been destroyed. (reference: Amesty International)

The vast majority of Israeli military action against the Palestinians and civilian deaths have been as a result of defending and reinforcing these settlements (colonies) on the West Bank. It is safe to say that without the settlements, there would have been relatively little violence in the region in the last 30 years and most likely Israel and a Palestinian state would be living side by side in relative calm. This is not to say that there would be no violence or strife whatsoever, but the thousands of deaths, the oppression and all of the humiliations which serve only to breed future terroism, hatred and anti-Semitism would never have happened.

For Sharon, the fundamental concept has always been a simple one — an idea that has been with him since he was a child on his parents farm and carried a club with him to beat anyone he found "trespassing" on their land. His concept is simply to make life so unpalatable and unprofitable for Palestinian Arabs that they would leave "voluntarily," either for another Arab country, Europe or the U.S — the precise strategy used by the Third Reich in 1938-39. This was in fact, a fundamental idea of the early Zionist movement (see quotes below.) Land confiscations, curfews, closures which prevent the vast majority of Palestinians from traveling to their jobs, economic strangulation, cutoff of trade with the outside world — all of these work in accordance with this idea: get the Arabs out and take the land for Jews.

The idea of Eretz Israel (greater Israel) reserves the land for Jews and Jews alone. Eretz Israel as defined by Gush Emunim (the settlers movement) extends from the Nile to the Euprhrates; according to their deeply felt beliefs, the extents of ancient Israel. Fundamental to their belief is the Talmudic prophecy that the Messiah cannot return until the Jews occupy all of Eretz Israel.

"We must do everything to insure they never return. The old will die and the young will forget. We shall reduce the Arab population to a community of woodcutters and waiters." (David Ben Gurion – First Prime Minister of Israel. 1949).

"There is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to neighboring countries, not one village, not one tribe should be left" (Joseph Weitz, one of the founders of Israel, 1940)

"We shall try to spirit the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country .... expropriation and the removal of the poor must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly." -- Theodore Herzl – founder of Zionist movement (from Rafael Patai, Ed. The Complete Diaries of Theodore Herzl, Vol I)

"... it is the duty of the [Israeli] leadership to explain to the public a number of truths. One truth is that there is no Zionism, no settlement, and no Jewish state without evacuating Arabs, and without expropriating lands and their fencing off." -- Yesha'ayahu Ben-Porat, Israeli Cabinet Minister, 1951.

"The very point of Labor's Zionist program is to have as much land as possible and as few Arabs as possible!" --Yitzhak Navon ("moderate" ex-Israeli president and a leading left wing party politician.)

THE ISRAELI VISION OF SETTLEMENTS POLICY (quoted at - The Foundation For Middle East Peace)
As Moshe Detain explained, Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are essential "not because they can ensure security better than the army, but because without them we cannot keep the army in those territories. Without them the IDF would be a foreign army ruling a foreign population."

During the first decade of occupation after the 1967 war, Labor-led governments established the infrastructure and institutions for the creation and expansion of permanent Israeli settlement in the territories. Labor's approach was incremental, but after 1977, Begin's Likud government embraced settlements as its raison d'être and the key to the Likud's political renaissance. Aside from the ideological imperative to settle the land, Begin viewed settlements as his opportunity to create a political constituency rooted in the settlements of the West Bank just as Labor had done with its kibbutz and moshav settlements in pre-state Israel.

In July 1977 Begin refused President Jimmy Carter's request to freeze settlement activity. At the time, there were about 50,000 Israelis living in annexed East Jerusalem, but only 7,000 settlers in 45 civilian outposts in the West Bank and Gaza.

In September 1977 Begin's minister of agriculture, Ariel Sharon, unveiled "A vision of Israel at Century's End," calling for the settlement of 2 million Jews in the occupied territories. The Likud plan proposed settling Jews in areas of Arab habitation and for numerous settlement points as well as large urban concentrations in three principle areas:

-- a north-south axis running from the Golan through the Jordan Valley and down the east coast of Sinai;
-- a widened corridor around Jerusalem; and
-- the populated western slopes of the Samarian heartland of the West Bank.

This last wedge of Jewish settlement was of prime concern to Likud strategists, particularly Sharon, who was intent upon establishing Israeli settlements to separate the large blocs of Arab population on either side of the Green Line north of Tel Aviv.

Likud's intention to preempt the possibility of a territorial division of the land and to strike at the basis of potential Palestinian sovereignty by destroying the continuity of Palestinian-controlled territory was stated clearly by Drobless more than twenty years ago. "The disposition of the settlements must be carried out not only around the settlements of the minorities [Arabs], but also in between them. . . ." When negotiators met during 2000 at Camp David to reach a permanent agreement on a border, they had to deal with an area in which Palestinian cities, town, and villages were often surrounded and separated by Israeli settlements and roads.

Likud's policty repeatly emphasized that AT NO TIME are the national concerns of the indiginous people, nor their yearning for freedom are to be taken into account or mitigated in any way which interferes with official Israeli policy or the territorial aspirations of Gush Emunim, the settler's movement.

The Government of Israel has used legal ruses to confiscate Palestinian land for settlements. It has allocated hundreds of millions of dollars annually for the development and expansion of settlements in occupied territories. Settlement construction fluctuates between 2,000 and 5,000 housing units each year. By the end of 1985, the settler population in the West Bank and Gaza stood at 42,000, a 100 percent increase since 1982. By 1990, it stood at 76,000. In addition, 120,000 Israelis had settled in East Jerusalem, 10,000 more were in the Golan Heights, and 3,000 lived in Gaza. (quoted at - The Foundation For Middle East Peace)

Gush Shalom: Barak Peace Plan (See this important site by an Israeli/Jewish peace group - absolutely essential information)

Amnesty International









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