MYTH: Settlements are the Obstacle to Peace

An Israeli and Palestinian-Arab man in a "settlement" in Judea/Samaria. "Settlements" throughout Judea and Samaria employ thousands of Palestinian-Arabs and pay them roughly 3-4 times what they would make working in the Palestinian Authority (photo credit: Yaacov, Wikipedia Commons).

FACT: “Settlements” (Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria – the “West Bank”) are a distraction, not an obstacle. In other words, settlements distract from the real issues that prevent peace between Israel and the Palestinian-Arabs. Settlements are not an obstacle to peace for many reasons:

  1. Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders openly admit that settlements have nothing to do with peace. Through their media outlets, schools, and mosques, PA leaders preach the destruction of all of Israel and say that peace will not come until they wipe all of Israel off the map. They never call for destruction of the “West Bank” and peace with the rest of Israel; rather, they call for the destruction of all of Israel. They never call for the “liberation” of the “West Bank” and then to live in peace next to Israel after a Palestinian-Arab state is created; rather, they call for the liberation of all of Israel and chant, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” They never call for the killing of Jews in Judea and Samaria and then to coexist with Jews in the rest of Israel; rather, they call for the killing of all Jews in Israel. In other words, according to PA leaders, if settlements were to disappear tomorrow, we would not be any closer to peace.
  1. Israel completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005 and evacuated numerous settlements and 9,000 residents. Many thought this would bring peace; however, in return for this move, Israel received even more terrorism. Hamas took Gaza from the PA and launched thousands of rockets at Israeli civilians and initiated three wars. If settlements were the obstacle to peace, there would be peace in Gaza.
  1. Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the “West Bank”) take up less than 2 percent of the land currently proposed for the creation of a Palestinian-Arab state. Meanwhile, Palestinian-Arab communities take up roughly 40 percent of the land, while 58 percent of the land is uninhabited. It is misleading for one who advocates for a Palestinian-Arab state to argue that communities on less than 2 percent of the land block an entire state from coming into existence.
  1. To argue that the removal of Jewish communities from Judea and Samaria is necessary for peace is to argue that the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the area is necessary to bring peace. Ethnic cleansing is never the answer. If a Palestinian-Arab state were to be created today, there would be roughly 100,000 Jews within the boundaries of the state (after land swaps recognized by the international community to keep most Jews from Judea and Samaria in Israel). Israel currently has a roughly 25 percent Arab minority living in Israel with equal rights, so why can’t a future Palestinian-Arab state have a roughly 4 percent Jewish minority with equal rights? Unfortunately, the reason this is not possible is because PA leaders regularly say that no Jews would be allowed to live in a future “Palestine.” Moreover, given the fact that PA leaders incite their people to kill Jews (read below), the citizens of a future “Palestine” would most likely attack the Jewish residents.
  1. If settlements were the obstacle to peace, the PA would have accepted Israel’s offers in 2000 and 2008 of nearly all of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza to create a sovereign Palestinian-Arab state. These offers would have destroyed all settlements in a future “Palestine” and given all of the land in question to the PA. Instead, however, the PA rejected both offers and resorted to an increase in incitement and terrorism.
  1. Settlements in Judea and Samaria only date back to 1967 – the year took control of the area after Jordan (along with three other Arab nations) invaded Israel intending to destroy it. However, the Palestinian-Arabs – along with the rest of the Arab World – had been calling for Israel’s annihilation and had been attacking the Jewish state long before this. The Palestinian-Arab leadership has had the stated goal of destroying Israel since long before settlements existed, meaning settlements cannot be the problem. In fact, current PA President Mahmoud Abbas (along with former terrorist Yasser Arafat and mentor Hajj Amin al-Husseini – a close friend of Hitler) founded the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) – now the PA – with the goal of eliminating Israel in 1964, years before any settlements existed.

The real obstacle to peace is the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to make peace and its continued incitement and funding of terrorism. Instead of preaching peace and coexistence, PA leaders preach the genocide of the Jewish people and the destruction of the Jewish state. Through their media outlets, mosques, and schools, PA leaders teach their children that Jews are root of all problems and that Israel must be destroyed. It is impossible to make peace with a government that has a stated goal of Israel’s annihilation. It is impossible to make peace with a government that has created the most anti-Semitic society on Earth (according to the ADL’s 2014 Survey of Global Anti-Semitism, 93 percent of Palestinian-Arabs hold anti-Semitic views – the highest rate in the world).

Moreover, PA President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, stating that the Jews have no claim to the land and that all the land belongs to the Palestinian-Arabs. He also names schools, streets, summer camps, and more after the terrorists who have killed the most Jews, thus furthering the hate-based education of his people and leading them further away from peace.