Palestinians have already given up so much since 1948.It's up to Israel to end its campaign of ethnic cleansing forthe peace process to move forward.
December 17, 2010|By Ali AbunimahIsrael'sdeputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, paints a picture of an innocentIsraelyearning for peace, virtually begging the intransigent Palestinians to come negotiate so therecan be a "two-states-for-two-peoples solution" ("Who's stopping the peace process?" Dec.14). But it's one that bears no resemblance to the realities Palestinians experience and much of the world sees every day.Ayalon claims that the settlements Israel refuses to stop building on occupied land are a "redherring" and present no obstacles to peace because in the "43 years since Israel gained controlof the West Bank, the built-up areas of the settlements constitute less than 1.7% of the totalarea."But let us remind ourselves of a few facts that are not in dispute. Since thePalestineLiberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo peace agreement in 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has tripled to more thanhalf a million. Ayalon's deceptive focus on the "built-up areas" ignores the reality that thesettlements now control 42% of the West Bank, according to areport last Julyfrom the Israelihuman rights group B'Tselem.B'Tselem points out that there are now more than 200Israeli settlements"that are connectedto one another, and to Israel, by an elaborate network of roads." These roads, along withvarious "security zones" from which Palestinians are excluded, cut across Palestinian land andisolate Palestinians in miserable and often walled, ghetto-like enclaves.Despite a 10-month settlement "moratorium" that ended in September, Israel never stoppedbuilding settlements for a single day. Construction went onvirtually uninterrupted,accordingto Israel's Peace Now, and within weeks of the official end of the "moratorium," settlers hadmore than made upfor the slight dip in new housing starts in the previous months. In EastJerusalem, where Israel never even pretended to have a moratorium, government-backedIsraeli settlers continue to evict Palestinians from numerous neighborhoods.