Steven Waldman

Josh Marshall on Talking Points Memo has this provocative argument that the Obama administration is right to hold the line against Israel’s desire to allow “natural growth” in West Bank settlements.

“In Israel, the language of settlement growth is divided into two categories — building new settlements and “natural growth” of existing ones. Even the Netanyahu government says it won’t allow new settlements, only the ‘natural growth’ of original ones. And that doesn’t sound unreasonable on the face of it. After all, families grow. Children get married and start their own families.
Many of the current settlements are much bigger in terms of the land that has been designated for them then they’re actually built up. So, for instance, take the example of Manhattan at the end of the 18th century. If you could go back with an airplane and cruise over this island of ours you’d see that New York then was still a settlement mainly restricted to the southern tip of the Island. Today the whole island is packed to the gills with people and buildings. By the terms of settlement vocabulary, that’s all just been ‘natural growth’, just filling out an already existing area designated for settlement.
In any case, ‘natural growth’ really is the most natural thing in the world if — and this is what all turns on — if you think the settlements are permanent. If the existing settlements are permanent, then it’s silly to think that one settler can live in a house but it’s forbidden to build a new house on the lot next door.
But if the settlements are permanent, then a Palestinian state is basically impossible. And that means the occupation is permanent, as is the conflict.”

What do you think?

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