Sunday, January 23, 2011

New proposal: 80% of settlers can stay in exchange for land swaps

Ma'arat HaMachpela, the Cave of the Patriarchs, minutes from
Kiryat Arba, from which said proposal anticipates Israel's withdrawal

According to JTA, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a pro-Israel U.S. think tank with close ties to the Obama and Bibi administrations, has released proposals for a two-state solution that would allow up to 80% of Jews in Judea and Samaria to stay in place in exchange for land adjacent to Gaza, Sinai and other parts of the West Bank. 

The maps thus propose a contiguous Palestinian state with Israeli "fingers" into the northern West Bank.

On the one hand, this proposal makes a crucial point: the "settlers" are not the obstacle to peace; with land swaps, most could stay in place, without endangering the continuity of a Palestinian state.

On the other hand, the proposal is seriously misguided. First, it rests on the faulty notion that giving away the land of Eretz Yisrael will magically bring about security. The recent pullout from Gaza demonstrated clearly the backwards logic underlying this assumption; as soon as Israel pulled out, Gaza Palestinians elected Hamas and have not stopped firing rockets on Israel since.

But even if we were to consider land swaps, the said proposal contains at least a serious error. It anticipates the necessity of Israel withdrawing from Kiryat Arba, currently home to 10,000 Israelis. Kiryat Arba, founded in 1968, lies 5 minutes from the Cave of the Patriarchs, and is a common place for Jews around the world to stay for Shabbat and holidays when visiting the Cave. If Israel were to withdraw from Kiryat Arba, it would ultimately be abandoning Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah, not to mention Adam and Eve, who according to tradition are buried in the cave as well.

In November, when Netanyahu was mulling over the continuation of a building freeze in Judea and Samaria, the rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rav Dov Lior, wrote the following:
In this difficult hour for the State of Israel, which is facing harsh pressure from the nations of the world, and especially from the 'western power,' to give up our right to our historic homeland, I am taking the step of wishing you 'chazak ve'ematz' (be strong and firm) from the heights of the Judean Mountains, the birthplace of the Kingdom of Israel, the place where our holy Forefathers rest, and the location in which Israel's greatest leaders lived and acted in the past.
Chazak Ve'ematz, indeed!

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