Monday, June 15, 2009
Mr. Netanyahu's speech - another "generous offer"
/Photo: One of the many Israeli colonies spread in the Palestinian Territory (West Bank). Next to it Palestinian boys riding a donkey. Currently there are around 400 000 settlers living in these isolated enclaves./
I carefully listened to Mr. Netanyahu’s speech, hoping for a change. Naïve me.
Most TV stations and analysts, to my surprise, pronounced this a breakthrough or a shift in the peace process. I wonder if we were listening to the same speech.
To me, Mr. Netanyahu's speech brought nothing new. Indeed he says he wants to reach out for peace and is ready to negotiate, these are very nice and promising words.
The conditions he establishes however, are clear to the people that are familiar with the facts on the ground. Firstly, he is talking about the Jewish state, while 20% of Israeli citizens are Palestinians or Israeli Arabs (depending who says it), it makes them second class citizens. Secondly, saying that the "refugee issue is to be resolved outside of Israel's borders", means taking no accountability whatsoever for the refugees' fate Israel (and of course the international community) is responsible for. And last but definitely not least, the topic of the Israeli settlers, which deserves another paragraph.
I have been living in Hebron and witnessed what occupation means and who the settlers are. And trust me they are anything but bridges to peace. Settler violence is known to all Palestinians living in the West Bank, of course Hebron being the special case. Mr. Netaniahu's saying settlers are "pioneers and people of principle" is actually true but the principle he is supporting here is taking all means to regain the "land God promised to them" as the settlers say themselves, which translates into expropriating public or private Palestinian land and intimidating Palestinians to move out with multiple methods from verbal harassment to stone throwing, olive tree burning, setting cars and houses on fire, shooting (which I all witnessed myself). This is combined with the impunity the settlers have and Palestinian defenselessness (over 90% of settler violence incidents are not punished). I could write pages about it. Forgive my bitterness but living in Hebron one almost can't believe a situation like this can be taking place. (Just to be fair, apart from these ideological settlers there is a whole lot of so called economical settlers who live in the West Bank only because they are encouraged by the state with cheaper rent and better living conditions.)
Netaniahu says settlements will stay there. How then a viable Palestinian State could exist with a net of settler only road infrastructure. An independent Palestinian state with this separation and Israeli colonies inside is just not feasible. This, to me, means occupation won’t end because the settlers, as it happens now, will need to be protected.
And lastly, in relation to Mr. Netanyahu's call for demilitarization of the Palestinian state, I wonder if the settlers will be desarmed as well. I honestly don't believe that will happen.
Posted by Gosia at 3:54 PM