Source: The New York Times
HEBRON, West Bank — Last week, Israel’s Parliament passed a controversial bill that allows the government to retroactively authorize contested West Bank Jewish communities by compensating previous Palestinian land claimants. Opposition parties warn that this law could open Israel to prosecution at The Hague, and the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said, “Israel’s Parliament has just approved a law to legalize theft of Palestinian land.” This theme has been echoed recently at the Paris peace conference, in a United Nations Security Council resolution and by a major policy speech by then Secretary of State John Kerry, which all condemned settlements.
Israel never seems to have a good answer to accusations against the settlement enterprise. Whenever the claim that Israel stole Palestinian lands is heard, Israel’s answers inevitably are: “We invented the cellphone,” “We have gay rights,” “We fly to help Haiti after an earthquake.” Obvious obfuscation. And when pushed to explain why the much-promised two-state solution is perennially stuck, the response is always to blame Arab obstructionism.
This inability to give a straight answer is a result of 30 years of bad policy that has pressed Israel to create a Palestinian state in the historic Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria, which the world calls the West Bank. This policy has worked to legitimize the idea that the territory of Judea and Samaria is Arab land and that Israel is an intractable occupier. Today, as Israel is beginning to walk back the two-state solution, it is not easy to admit we were wrong; and many people’s careers are on the line. This is why Israel mouths the old party line, yet takes no steps toward making a Palestinian state a reality.
But for us settlers, the truth is clear: The two-state solution was misconceived, and will never come to pass, because Judea and Samaria belong to the Jewish people. Our right to this land is derived from our history, religion, international decisions and defensive wars. Jews have lived here for 3,700 years, despite repeated massacres, expulsions and occupations — by the Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Ottomans. And the world recognized the Jewish people’s indigenous existence in this land in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 and the San Remo Accords of 1920.