“It is human nature to react to occupation” -UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon
These words, uttered to the UN Security Council just a few weeks ago, sparked profound outrage throughout Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the UN has “lost its neutrality and its moral force”, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely claimed these words “harm the global fight against terror”, and Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon stated that “the UN Secretary General is encouraging terror instead of fighting terror.” The anger at these comments echoed throughout the halls of the Knesset, and Ki-Moon’s comments were condemned from the Golan to the Negev.
Subsequently, across the Atlantic, animosity towards Israel was growing within the halls of the UN headquarters. Ban Ki-Moon and a confluence of member nations groaned at the announcement Israel was appropriating a large mass of fertile lands in the West Bank that include plans for more than 150 new settlement homes. This “land grab” has been condemned by the European Union, the United States, and a plethora of other nations. Furthermore, some individuals, like Ban Ki-Moon in his op-ed Don’t Shoot the Messenger, utilize this news to blame settlements for the utter absence of peace.
While this is old news, the notion that Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria are the main obstacle for peace is based upon the offensive double standard that its difficult for Palestinians to live amongst Jews, while any future Palestinian state would most likely be Judenrein.
Let’s begin with a little history. Jewish settlement in the West Bank, or “occupied territories”, began after Israel won the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed the West Bank, Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, and parts of the Golan Heights. Following the defensive capture of those lands, Israel, under the leadership of Labor Party leader Levi Eshkol, began expanding Jewish housing in the West Bank, and soon the Gaza Strip. Yet, even before settlement construction, Jewish citizens of Israel were met with the same violence and hostility. Additionally, any time Israel offered to remove or freeze settlement expansion (1977, 1978, 2000, 2005, 2008, 2010), they encountered the same refusal from the Palestinian Authority. Ultimately, regardless of Israeli settlement policy, the Palestinian leadership has still shown no initiative to make constructive steps towards peace. When claiming Israel’s withdrawal of settlements would give Palestinians hope and motivation to seek peace, examining history will show that is not the case.
In 2005, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to uproot all 21 Israeli settlements in Gaza was finalized and executed. When the removal was complete, Israel left Gazans with an endowment of sturdy infrastructure, including an extensive network of profitable greenhouses. Israel hoped that the Palestinian Authority would be able to utilize these greenhouses to benefit Palestinian housing and industry, and allow for Gaza to become a formidable independent entity.
However, the exact opposite occurred. Upon entering the new Palestinian controlled Gaza Strip, Palestinians looted building and synagogues, burned down greenhouses, and stole various materials and factors of production. Then, once Hamas took over in 2007, any profits that were reaped because of the flower industry within greenhouses went towards buying Iranian developed grad and qassam rockets. Thus, the Gaza experiment failed, and Israel learned its lesson; removing settlements does not foster peace; it only opens up a vaccum that will likely be filled by radicalism.
Ultimately, there is one reason why the international community debates Jewish “occupation” and not the defined occupation of Northern Cyprus by Turkey, the occupation of Artsvashen by Azerbaijan, the occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco, and the occupation of numerous locations by Russia. The reason is that their agenda is rooted in the pure goal of targeting the Jewish people, and the Jewish state. Therefore, the international political sphere is eager to blame Israel for the lack of peace, while simultatenously ignoring the fact that the Palestinians are unwilling to accept the existence of a Jewish state, and instead prefer a “Jew-free” nation that replaces Israel.
It is time the world recognize that peace will arrive when the hatred and radicalism engrained in Palestinian society is triumphed, not when Israel opts to relocate the Jewish housing that takes up 2-5% of West Bank land.