Vail, CO, Colorado
In light of the terrorist attack that took place against Israel, I feel compelled to write an article about the “settlement Issue” that so concerns this U.S. administration.
I am very concerned over the pressure the United States is putting on Israel over what they call “the settlement issue” and how the general U.S. population is reacting to what is being said on television and in the newspapers — mostly misinformation. The intent of this misinformation is to get the American public to feel anger towards Israel thereby lessening popular support for the only democratic nation in the Middle East.
I hope I can clarify the situation for the people who live in the Vail Valley and who have always been supporters of this beleaguered nation. In this letter I will not refer to the Israeli population blocs as “settlements,” as that conjures up the wrong picture of the area.
At one time these population centers were “settlements” meaning fewer than 5,000 people, around the size of Vail. Today these communities at issue have over 20,000 people living in them and are truly bedroom communities of Jerusalem — meaning that they are within five to 10 miles of the city. The Jewish towns in the West Bank at issue cover only 1.7 percent of the actual land area that is part of the discussions concerning the establishment of a Palestinian state. It’s infinitesimal!
These towns border or are on the 1949 Armistice lines — lines that were delineated at the close of the war that was started in 1948 by five Arab nations against the newly created Jewish state. According to the United Nations, those cease-fire lines were never intended to be permanent boundaries. Over the past decade, the U.S. government has understood that any final peace treaty would involve Israel retaining these close-in towns. They would compensate the Palestinians accordingly with land from Israel itself.
The concept of a “settlement freeze” was defined during the Bush administration when the “Roadmap to Peace” was established and agreed upon. The concept of “natural growth” within the boundaries of existing settlements was accepted by both Democrat and Republican administrations for the past decade. Letters of understanding were put in writing between the United States and Israel in 2004, and subsequently were overwhelmingly endorsed by a concurrent resolution of Congress.
The term “natural growth” refers to children. About 9,000 babies were born in West Bank Jewish towns in 2007 and it appears that the State Department views these bundles of joy as a threat to its precious “peace process.” You can find these very same restrictions placed on the Hebrews by the Egyptian pharaoh, in the Bible in Exodus, Chapter II. Officials in the prime minster’s office said: “Over the past decade, important understandings were reached on the issues of settlements … understandings that Israel has abided by. Israel committed itself not to build new settlements and to take down unauthorized outposts. The agreements were to allow normal life in existing communities, especially the large towns that will definitely stay a part of Israel in any final status agreement. On the basis of these understandings the Israeli government accepted the road map in 2003 and adopted the disengagement plan in 2005.” There were four points regarding settlements:
n Housing could be built within the boundaries of certain settlement blocs.
n No new settlements would be established.
n No monetary incentives would be offered for people to move to these communities.
n No Palestinian land would be expropriated for the settlements.
Israel has lived by these agreements far more than the Palestinians who agreed to:
n No more violence (suicide bombers) against Israelis.
n No more rocket attacks on southern Israeli towns.
n No more teaching hatred of Jews in their schools, the press and television.
Since 2003 when these agreements were adopted, more than 15,000 rockets have fallen on Israeli towns, and continue to this day, in spite of the recent war in Gaza.
Dov Weinglas, a senior aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote in May 2003 in an Israeli newspaper that he and Sharon met with Elliott Abrams and Stephen Headley of the U.S. National Security Council and came up with the definition of a “settlement freeze,” and that Condoleezza Rice signed off on that definition later that month.
President Obama repeatedly insists that American foreign policy will be conducted with modesty and humility, and above all there will be no more “dictating” to other countries. That’s an admirable statement that applies to every nation except Israel. Israel is ordered to freeze all settlement activity. As Secretary of State Hilary Clinton explained the order, “a stop to settlements … not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions.”
The record shows that Israel takes “risks for peace” only when trusting its American ally. An administration that undermines this fragile trust will likely confront a wary and reluctant Israeli leadership, as is understandable.
If the United States does not honor its previous “understandings” with Israel, then it has little right to demand that Israel live up to “commitments” she made in the past.
There Marco Odermatt was, in the Birds of Prey finish corral following his gutsy super-G run, wondering just how fast he was. As the second skier on course, and the first to finish, the confusion was understandable.