As I’ve argued before, the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will entail only two of Democracy, Greater Israel, and Jewishness. In terms of the settlements policy, it seems that Israel has essentially picked the first two. President Obama’s insistence that Israel freeze all settlements is in fact Israel’s only chance to preserve its identity as a majority Jewish state. However, Prime Minister Netanyahu is still playing to his far-right base, vowing that the settlements will go on:
Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak, authorized plans for 455 new housing units in Jewish settlements in the West Bank on Monday, in a move aimed at placating Israel’s pro-settlement camp ahead of an expected construction freeze demanded by the Arab world and the United States.
(…) About 2,500 housing units are already under construction in the West Bank settlements. Israeli officials say they will be completed, regardless of any moratorium. They also say a moratorium will not apply to Jerusalem. The Palestinians claim the eastern part of the city as the capital of a future state.
It’s clear that even a “freeze” will not be a true cessation of settlement buliding. The settlements are literally a colonial enterprise, with the aim of creating “facts on the ground” that compel the creation of Greater Israel. But the Palestinians will remain, and in the absence of a viable state of their own, are increasigly inclined to simply accept the reality of Greater Israel themselves:
After visiting the Middle East, [former US President] Carter said in an opinion article of The Washington Post newspaper the outcome was “more likely” than independent Israeli and Palestinian states being formed.
He said that one state was “obviously the goal of Israeli leaders who insist on colonising the West Bank and East Jerusalem”.
However, he added: “A majority of the Palestinian leaders with whom we met are seriously considering acceptance of one state, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.
“By renouncing the dream of an independent Palestine, they would become fellow citizens with their Jewish neighbours and then demand equal rights within a democracy.
“In this nonviolent civil rights struggle, their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior and Nelson Mandela.”
Carter, who commented that a two-state solution was “clearly preferable”, said that Palestinian leaders had also considered the current demographics of Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
“Non-Jews are already a slight majority of total citizens in this area, and within a few years Arabs will constitute a clear majority,” he said.
Greater Israel cannot be Jewish, unless it completely renounces Democracy as well. The two-state solution is the only way that Israel can survive as an avowedly Jewish nation, but the settlements are a cancer that paradoxically eat away at the dream of a Jewish homeland even as they grow the physica boundaries of the state.