Monday, March 21, 2005


Dear President Bush (and other Israeli partisans),
Could you please explain how Israel's plan to build 3500 new homes in the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim is not a clear violation of both the spirit and letter of requirements under the road map (we already know that it's a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention)? And could you explain how this move by Sharon, which will further immiserate the Palestinians by stealing more of their land, expropriating more of their water, and by even more severely constraining their movements and access to Muslim holy sites and family members in Arab East Jerusalem, is conducive to the peace process?


Here's some history of the Maale Adumim settlement, which includes maps. A more current map is here (Maale Adumim is the pink section stretching east from Jerusalem to the top of the Dead Sea).

I visited Maale Adumim in June, 2003, and I can attest that the expansion was already well under way at that time. This is yet another fact that is persistently underreported in American news media: Israeli settlement construction in the Palestinian West Bank is ongoing, almost uninterrupted since 1967. It's only when Israel announces an exceptionally massive project, such as the current expansion of Maale Adumim, that it makes news, and even then the best you can usually hope for is a little tsk-tsk from Thomas Friedman.

President Bush bears a significant amount of blame for this. He effectively tore up the road map when he indicated both that it was unrealistic for Palestinian refugees to expect to return to homes from which they'd been ejected by Israel in 1948 (contradicting fifty-five years of both U.S. policy and international law in the process), and that Israel would be able to hold on to its larger settlements, (which Sharon of course took as advice to "Keep on building!") By making concessions on behalf of the Palestinians that he had absolutely no right to make, Bush at a stroke gave diplomatic cover to Israel's illegal settlement operations as well as incentive to increase those operations, and demonstrated to the world once and for all his belief that Palestinian rights do not merit serious consideration.

As I've written before, the great irony of Israel's colonization project is that it will eventually make a two-state solution impossible, if it hasn't already. There is simply no way that a Palestinian state can be economically viable when divided into small, non-contiguous enclaves (and no, "bypass roads" connecting the Palestinian Bantustans do not make them contiguous, especially when the settlements are specifically positioned to control both the flow of traffic and access to scarce water).

The simple fact is that these settlements are counterproductive both in terms of Israel's security and of its continued existence as a Jewish state.

No comments: