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Sasley & Sucharov - West Bank Settlers

Sasley & Sucharov - West Bank Settlers

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Published by: bsasley on Jan 26, 2012
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| International Journal | Autumn 2011 | 999 |
Brent E. Sasley& Mira Sucharov
Resettling the WestBank settlers
In countering the view that the Israeli-Palestinian conict is intractable,Israeli writer Amos Oz has famously described it as one over “real estate.”
 Surely he was applying a clever riff on the basic concept of territory—onwhich so much of geopolitics rests. And in part there is the simple questionof urban sprawl, where homes in the settlements cost one third or even onequarter of what an equivalent-sized house or apartment would run in Israel’surban centres.
But it is also broader and deeper. In invoking the importanceof how public space is conceived, the real estate metaphor lls in an importantpart of the story between reaching an agreement at the bargaining table and
Mira Sucharov is associate proessor o political science and assistant dean in the aculty o public aairs at Carleton University in Ottawa. She is the author o 
The International Sel:Psychoanalysis and the Search or Israeli-Palestinian Peace
(SUNY Press, 2005) and her blog appears in haaretz.com. Brent E. Sasley is assistant proessor o political science at theUniversity o Texas at Arlington. He blogs on the Israeli-Palestinian confict and diaspora-Israeli relations or the Hungton Post. For helpul comments on earlier drats, we would like to thank Adina Friedman, two anonymous reviewers, and especially Ron Hassner.
1 Amos Oz,
How to Cure a Fanatic 
(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006).2 See Ilene R. Prusher, “West Bank settlements become havens o Israeli suburbanites,”
Christian Science Monitor 
, 21 September 2009, 3, www.csmonitor.com.
| 1000 | Autumn 2011 | International Journal || Brent E. Sasley & Mira Sucharov |
eventually having to ratify it at home. This becomes clear as we consider thelong history of breakdowns in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Part of the explanation is the failure of each side to let go of maximalist positionsout of fear of alienating segments of their domestic support base. In thecase of Israel, the government’s inability to deal effectively with the Jewishsettlements in the West Bank is among the thorniest problems.
 The Israeli government has no choice but to account for the demandsof the settler population. They number in the hundreds of thousands;have sympathizers among the broader population, including state leaders;and themselves occupy decision-making positions in the civil service andthe Israeli armed forces.
Without understanding the dynamics of settleridentity, observers cannot provide workable ideas for inching Israelis andPalestinians toward a nal agreement.Thinking about how collective identity inuences the view of publicspace, this article starts from the assumption that, while it is certainly notinevitable, a two-state solution is the most likely arrangement on whichboth sides will reach agreement.
It follows that to make way for a likelyPalestinian state in the West Bank, the Israeli government will have to movetens of thousands of settlers across the green line into Israel.
3 Good discussions o the origins o the settlement enterprise and the inherentdiculties Israel has had in dealing with settlers include Gershom Gorenberg
, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth o the Settlements, 1967-1977 
(New York: TimesBooks, 2006); and Idith Zertal and Akiva Eldar,
Lords o the Land: The War Over Israel’sSettlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007 
(New York: Nation Books, 2007).4 Oded Haklai, “Religious-nationalist mobilization and state penetration: Lessonsrom Jewish settlers’ activism in Israel and the West Bank,”
Comparative PoliticalStudies
40, no.6 (June 2007): 713-39; Zertal and Eldar,
Lords o the Land 
.5 This assumption orms the bedrock o all ocial Israeli-Palestinian negotiations,as well as the reports o a number o nongovernmental organizations. Others havecertainly oered alternate arrangements, including a one-state solution without anynarrow ethnic-religious-national identity. See, or example, Virginia Tilley,
The One-State Solution: A Breakthrough or Peace in the Israeli-Palestinian Deadlock 
(Ann Arbor:University o Michigan Press, 2010). This is a minority position to which Israel hasnever given any credibility.6This has been the conclusion o both ocial government peace talks (e.g., at CampDavid 2000 and Taba 2001) and track-two diplomacy (e.g., the Geneva initiativeannounced in 2003, www.geneva-accord.org; MarkHeller and Sari Nusseibeh,
NoTrumpets, No Drums: A Two-State Settlement o the Israeli-Palestinian Confict
[NewYork: Hill and Wang, 1991]; and the “people’s voice,” launched in 2003, www.mikad.org.il).
| International Journal | Autumn 2011 | 1001 || Resettling the West Bank settlers |
there are 500,000 settlers in the West Bank (including the 200,000 whoreside in and around east Jerusalem), conventional wisdom—based on pastnegotiations and on Israeli “red lines” regarding the largest settlements—suggests that only about 70,000 settlers will be made to move in the eventof a nal agreement,
though some recommendations argue for a range of 100,000 to 120,000.
The remaining settlement blocs will likely be annexedto Israel in return for negotiated land swaps.
 But Israel’s last foray into relocating a settler population still haunts thecountry. Prior to the 2005 Gaza withdrawal, Prime Minister Ariel Sharontold an Israeli parliamentary committee that “the fate of Netzarim [a smallsettlement in the Gaza Strip] is the fate of Tel Aviv.”
In the event, the 8000Gaza settlers felt abandoned to subpar housing options and lacklustreemployment opportunities inside Israel.With lingering ill-will from the Gaza evacuation, it can be assumed thatin the event of a large-scale disengagement, the Israeli government willpresent the West Bank settlers with strong economic incentive packages.But in the context of a peace agreement, and to allow for Israel’s successfulimplementation of it, the government will have to get maximum buy-in fromthe settlers in what will no doubt be a politically, socially, and emotionallypainful process of relocation. After the cheque is cashed, settlers will haveto feel that they can live meaningful lives on the other side of the green line,lives that connect with their well-entrenched identities as frontier Zionists.Without such guarantees, the government will simply be unable to generateenough legitimacy from this crucial sector of the population.
7 See Nathan Jeay, “‘Land swaps’: Is there enough land to swap?”
 Jewish Daily Forward 
,25 May 2011, www.orward.com. The most recent Israeli oer to the Palestinians, byormer Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, called or 70,000 settlers to be moved intoIsrael while the rest remained, with their lands annexed to Israel. See Nadav Shragai,“Settlers vow to ght PM’s plan to quit West Bank,” Haaretz, 13 August 2008, www.haaretz.com.8 See James A. Baker III, “Getting to the territorial endgame o an Israeli-Palestinianpeace settlement,” Baker Institute or Public Policy, 2010, www.bakerinstitute.org.9 On the established historical acceptance o land swaps and the retention o somesettlements under Israeli sovereignty, see “Middle East: Peace plan backgrounds,”Council on Foreign Relations, 7 February 2005, www.cr.org.10 Scott Wilson, “Ater 38 years, Gaza settlers gone,”
Washington Post
, 23 August 2005.11 Stacie Goddard shows the importance o domestic legitimacy in bringing aboutethnic confict resolution. See Goddard,
Indivisible Territory and the Politics o Legitimacy: Jerusalem and Northern Ireland 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

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