According to last reports, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert has agreed to hand
over Biblical Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians and dismantle most of
the settlements there. There is not something new. On the contrary, it's a
routine attempt to get rid of "occupied territories". Over the last
decades this desire has turned to a fixed idea of the Israeli establishment.
It tries to realize it by any means: from the formal agreement to unilateral
They hope to appease Arabs. However, in reality dismantling of settlements
not only will not lead to peace, but will make peace impossible. Settlements
are not an obstacle to the peace. On the contrary they are the indicator of
whether peace is possible in the Middle East.
The core of the problem in the Middle East isn't settlement activity, boundaries,
refugees, Jerusalem, or terror but that most Arabs -- not only in Saudi
Arabia and Hamas, but Egypt
and Fath too - refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish State. They
refuse to recognize the legality of the Jewish presence here, if it is not
more than a group of inoffensive ultra-orthodox Jews. They refuse to see in
Israel the fulfillment of the prophecies, inscribed in sacred books of all
monotheistic religions, including the Koran, and don't want to see any link
between the Jewish State and the Kingdoms of David and Solomon. And what is
more, they deprive Jews of their history and connection with Palestine altogether,
declaring that Jerusalem Temples are "fiction", and calling Jews
descendants of Kyzars, African Berbers, etc. Israel
is thus transformed into a "colonial project" and a "malignant
tumor in an Arabic world."
Islam is unwilling make long-lasting peace with such an "artificial"
formation. Only a temporary settlement -- a "hudna" -- is to be
Real peace will be established only when Arabs acknowledge: Jews lived in
this land three thousand years ago, prayed, waged wars with their enemies
and listened to their prophets; and, there are Jewish sacred places and sepulchers
in these lands. They should acknowledge that the roots of Jewish people are
in Judea, Jerusalem and Samaria. They should acknowledge that Jews have full
rights to live here altogether with Arabs, like equal and free people.
Even if political control in a particular area is turned over to Arabs, Jews
should be able to live here like Arab-Muslims and Arab-Christians live in
Jerusalem or Nazareth -- under Jewish rule, but near their sacred places,
on the land which they believe to be their own holy land. The moment the Palestinian
rulers and spiritual leaders are ready to recognize political and religious
legality of Jewish settlements in their state will mean that conflict is exhausted
on a basic level. If Arabs recognize the right of Jews to live in Judea and
Samaria, they'll recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state and it will open
the way to real peace. So their attitude to settlements is a litmus test of
the real attitude of Arabs to Jews and to the peace.
And vice versa, if Palestinians do not recognize the right of Jews to settle
in Beit-El, Hebron, Gush-Ezion, Elkana or Alon-Moreh it will mean that they
refuse to recognize any right for Jews in the Promised Land generally. And
they agree to compromises in order to weaken their enemy and gain time --
as Prophet Mohammed did to the Kureish tribe, as Palestinians did once, signing the Oslo
And all the more so: if Israel begins to destroy the settlements on a massive
scale in Judea and Samaria, Palestinians will consider it not only their victory,
but their supreme license to continue in their campaign to destroy the Jewish
It will mean that the "Zionists" are not only stepping back but
that they themselves don't believe in their destination, their right to live
in this land and have their own state. And then, for Arabs at least but for
many others as well, the fall of Israel
will be only a question of time.