Israel Needs Settlements for Peace

President Trump’s recent statement that settlements might not be "helpful" for peace shows that he may be falling for the same misconceptions that have governed American policy on both sides of the aisle toward Israel for decades.  From Condoleezza Rice on the right, to Obama on the left, there has been a remarkable sharing of misguided assumptions when it comes to Israel.

These assumptions can be summed up as:

1) Creation of two states out of Israel and the West Bank -- one Palestinian and the other Israeli -- is the only solution that will be fair and that can bring peace.

2) Those two states must be along the 1948 borders with a land swap here or there for a viable state of Palestine.

3) If Israel settles beyond the 1948 borders, it may become impossible to create a viable Palestinian State and there will be no peace without a viable Palestinian state.

4) The root of the problem is land, if the Palestinians have enough land for a state, there will be peace.

If these assumptions were correct, then policies based on those assumptions should make the area more peaceful.  The Oslo Accords, in which Israel turned 98% of the land inhabited by the Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria over to the Palestinian Authority, should have brought an era of peace and harmony.  Likewise, when Israel forcibly evicted Jewish residents of Gaza and turned their lands over to the Palestinians for peace, peace should have come to Gaza. 

Instead, the Oslo Accords brought a reign of terror to Israel.  The land Jews were removed from in Gaza was used to shoot rockets at Israeli civilians.  

The great chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov once said about Rice’s policies: “Sooner or later, you have to look at the consequences of your policies”.  American peacemaking policies in the Middle East have failed, yet American politicians never let go of their assumptions - which are wrong.

The problem is not that the Palestinians don’t have a state.  There are already four Palestinian States.  They include Jordan, the area controlled by the Palestinian Authority, the area controlled by Hamas, and Israel, as explained in the article The Four State Solution

The state of Jordan was carved out by the British from three quarters of the original Jewish National Home proposed in the 1917 Balfour Declaration.  Jordan's then-King Hussein said in 1981 that “The truth is that Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.”  The Eighth Palestnian National Congress declared that “Jordan is linked to Palestine by a national relationship and a national unity forged by history and culture from earliest times.  The creation of one political entity in east Jordan and another in Palestine would have no basis either in legality or as to the elements universally accepted as fundamental to a political entity.”

The problem is not that the Palestinians don’t have a state, the problem is the Islamic imperative to wage jihad against the infidel, especially the killer of prophets, the Jewish infidel.  From the Islamic perspective, Israel rules over Muslims when Muslims should rule over Jews and jihad must be waged until this outrage is rectified.  The end goal of the Muslims is for “Palestine to be free from the river to the sea” as they chant at anti-Israel demonstrations.  That is a euphemism for driving Israel into the sea.  The freedom part is propaganda as the Muslims living as citizens in Israel are far freer than their counterparts who live under the heel of the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.

When one recognizes the root of the conflict, it becomes clear why territorial concessions have failed and have in fact made things worse.  Territorial concessions whet the Arab appetite.  They show the Arabs that their goals are achievable and encourage them to keep on the pressure with more and more terror attacks. 

That raises an interesting question.  What if the Israelis responded to terrorist attacks by building new settlements.  Then the Arabs would learn that terror attacks are counterproductive and might have an incentive to stop them.  This is the exact opposite of the policies that the world and even the U.S. have pressured Israel into carrying out.  Perhaps instead of appeasement, Israel should be engaging in deterrence. 

Moshe Dayan, one of the great generals of Israel, gave a speech to volunteers of the RAFI political party, stating:

The essence of Israel's security in this region (Middle East) is deterrence.  When we formed the State in 1948-9, we were very weak. The Arab States had planes, tanks, heavy artillery and many more soldiers than us. We had very little heavy military equipment. In the period 1949-55, we absorbed almost a million immigrants. Tent cities sprung up all over the country. We were totally disorganized. Had the Arabs mounted another major invasion, we could have lost. We devised a solution to this problem. It was deterrence. Think about being lost in a forest and surrounded by hostile animals. If you light a torch, boldly approach them showing no fear -- they will retreat. But, if you show fear -- they will attack and you are lost.  We used this principle to save Israel during those early years. Every time we were attacked, we retaliated ten-fold. We showed daring and penetrated deep within their borders to attack our targets... You know the result. The Arabs were afraid and never attacked.  Deterrence worked.

Land for peace has failed over and over again.  Perhaps the time has come to deter the Arabs from engaging in violence.  Perhaps the time has come for building settlements for peace.