because it reinforces two mistaken but widely held notions: that the settlements are the principal obstacle to a deal and that further construction will make a Palestinian state impossible.I wrote about the Washington Post editorial argument that Condemnation of Israeli Settlements Goes Too Far.
Rubin notes the difficulty in proving that Israeli settlements are not the problem holding up peace, boiling the proof down to 2 arguments:
First, the day after the Israel-PLO agreement was signed in 1993, Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin made it clear that Israel’s interpretation was that it permitted continued construction on existing settlements. The Palestinian Authority did not object and that policy did not prevent it from negotiating over the next seven years. (Deliberate?) misrepresentations often make people think that Israel is establishing new settlements or expanding the size of existing ones. Both claims are untrue.Read the whole thing.
Second, if the Palestinian side wants an end to settlements that should be an incentive for reaching a peace agreement faster and thus getting rid of all settlements on the territory of the new state of Palestine. Notice that Israel—under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon no less—demolished all of the settlements in the Gaza Strip as, among other things, a sign of what could be gained by a peace deal.
Yet the Palestinian side has been in no hurry to make a deal. In theory, when it complains about settlements the response should be: So why don’t you compromise for peace and get rid of them rather than having them become “larger?” [emphasis added]
The fact that the Palestinian Arabs in general, and Abbas in particular, are in no hurry to make peace with Israel in order to put an end to the settlements, shows that in fact the Arabs' problem is not the settlements -- rather it is Israel's existence.
As Rubin puts it:
Or, to put it bluntly, stop quarreling and using violence, and demanding too much and expecting to gain total victory that will wipe Israel off the map and just make a compromise two-state solution.We're waiting.
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