RESPONSE: SETTLEMENTS IN THE WEST BANK AND THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION
PARTNERS FOR PEACE: HOPE FOR ISRAEL AND PALESTINE
University of British Columbia Journal for International Affairs
By Julian Ross Markowitz
Editor’s Note: We asked two UBC students – Julian
Markowitz and Abdurrahman Mihirig – who have been advocates for each side of
this issue to respond to Emelie Peacock’s article: "Settlements in the West Bank." Abdu, who is the Vice President
of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights at UBC, is also a senior editor of
Ms. Peacock’s essay prophesies a grim future for Jews and
Palestinians. She suggests that the hope for sovereignty, safety, and national
self-determination are terminally jeopardized by Israel’s actions. By placing
the blame squarely on the Jewish state, Peacock ignores an important concept: peace
takes two. The real impediment is the Palestinian leaders’ refusal to accept
living side-by-side with Israel, and renounce terrorism.
Peacock incorrectly identifies the settlements as the
principal obstacle to peace (they are not – terrorism is_, naively advances an
argument for a one state solution, mischaracterizes Jews as foreign settles
(there has been a continual Jewish presence in the area for tree thousand
years), and radically understates the opportunity for the creation of a viable
Palestinian state through good faith negotiation.
Israel has shown great willingness to make painful
concessions for peace. In contrast, Hamas clearly states in their founding
charter that any compromise with Israel is an affront to Islam. 24 hours after
the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Arab armies invaded vowing to
destroy the nascent state, and capture the entire area. This ideology has not
It is a grace mistake to identify the settlements as the
central issue preventing a peaceful resolution. In 2006, Israel unilaterally
withdrew from Gaza in a good faith concession. Immediately following the
withdrawal, terrorist groups including Hamas launched thousands of rockets
against Israeli towns from Gaza. These terrorist assaults continue to this day.
Indeed, much of what Peacock falsely identifies as the
trappings of settlement are, in reality, responses to terrorism. Suicide
bombers are stopped at security checkpoints, thus providing security for Jews
and Palestinians; secure road systems are a direct response to terrorist
attacks on Israeli motorists.
The security fence, which Peacock refers to as “the key
physical impediment to the creation of a viable Palestinian state,” is a
barrier that keeps terrorists out of Israel. Here Peacock’s fallacy of
causation is clear: she identifies the security fence as a barrier to peace,
not the terrorism that necessitated its construction. She portrays a fence, the
most quintessentially defensive measure, as an act of offence. Incidentally,
the fence has drastically reduced suicide bombings; yet, bombings are still
regularly attempted in areas beyond the safety it provides.
Israel’s security apparatus is, to be sure, a lugubrious
necessity. It is inconvenient for Israelis and Palestinians burdensome for
security personnel, and costly for the government to maintain. Nevertheless, it
is the bulwark against terrorist aggression that ensures the safety of all the
The grossly disproportionate emphasis placed on
settlement is a deliberate attempt to conceal the true obstacle to peace.
Indeed, the built-up areas of Israeli settlements over approximately 1.7
percent of the West Bank, and are close to the major Israeli cities.
Today, 98% of the Palestinians live under the control of
the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, or the Hamas government in Gaza.
Clearly, the minuscule Israeli presence in the disputed areas (settlement) is
not the impediment to Palestinian statehood.
Moreover, the so called ‘settlements’ are, in fact,
thriving communities with opportunity for Jews and Palestinians alike. Every
time Israel stops construction as a step toward negotiation, the Palestinian
contractors and laborers in those areas suffer from lack of work.
Only with Palestinian leaders’ acceptance of the state of
Israel, only with their renunciation of violence and terrorism, and only with
their commitment to serious negotiation can there be hope for peace.
Julian is the StandWithUs Emerson Fellow for Vancouver,
BC. He was the President of the
University of British Columbia’s Israel Advocacy Club from 2009 to 2010. Since 2009, he has been the Spiritual
Chairman of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity’s Beta Chi Chapter.