I used to be “anti-settlement” until I visited one by accident. Since then, I’ve learned a lot about how the settlement issue is misunderstood and often twisted.
Myth 1: They’re on stolen Palestinian land
Most of the land that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were built on was Jewish-owned. In 1948, thousands of Jews who lived over the Green Line on land they had bought were forcibly removed from their homes when the Land became an Arab state – Jordan. Between 1948 and 1967, the Jordanians were desperate to fill that land with Arabs so that if the Jews got it back, they wouldn’t be able to live there because of all the land that was literally “given away” to Arabs. However, the “settlements” that are legal under Israeli law were not built on such land, even though it was literally handed out by Jordan to prevent future Jewish settlement. Amona is an example of a town that was evacuated by the Israeli government when it was determined that the land belonged to an Arab (who was an absentee land owner who didn’t care about it until leftist NGOs told him he should). It was an “illegal settlement” because part of it was on Arab-owned land. The current legal settlements under Israeli law are all built on Jewish-owned land, or within Area C as designated by Oslo.
Myth 2: Thousands of Israeli soldiers risk their lives every day so a few thousand settlers can live there
Actually, it’s a few hundred thousand. And would you prefer the alternative, to forcibly remove 300,000 people, many who have been living for almost 50 years, some who had owned that land for centuries who lost it in 1948 and moved back? In general, the soldiers coexist peacefully with the Palestinians, except in some rare cases when one of the 40,000 NGOs who have set up shop there fire them up to make a statement (for example, when B’tselem gets Palestinians to provoke Israeli soldiers so they can film them in the most unflattering way possible), or when clans like the Tamimis do it in order to advocate for the removal of the Jewish State altogether. Generally, soldiers patrolling the communities in Judea and Samaria are safe.
Myth 3: The Jewish communities separate Palestinian villages
Again, this simply isn’t true. In fact if you look at a picture of most Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria you’ll see wide open space all around. Do they sometimes cut in between different Palestinian villages? Yes. Do they cut single Palestinian villages in half? No, because that would mean they were built on Palestinian land which they weren’t; as we have seen with Amona that is illegal. The only quasi-exception is the Jewish area of Hebron, which is in the middle of the Arab area and highly protected by soldiers, because it’s a holy city for Jews.
Myth 4: Israeli Settlements divert water from Palestinians
The truth is that the Israeli communities do a much better job on at keeping up our pipes. The Palestinian Authority do not keep their pipes well and lose a lot of water through leakage.
Myth 5: These settlers are singlehandedly sabotaging hope for a Palestinian state
Now that is the biggest load of rubbish I’ve ever heard about the communities in Judea and Samaria. These people fear that the Israeli government will refuse to negotiate with the Palestinians because they don’t want to evacuate 300,000 people from their homes. This statement has proven to be untrue. Most of the two state deals proposed by Israel have included the communities in Judea and Samaria, which would be evicted as Gaza was in 2005. Residents of Judea and Samaria know they are taking this risk. However I don’t understand why the world thinks it’s okay for Palestine to have no Jews but not ok for Israel to have no Arabs – talk about a double standard! A future Palestinian state would have several million Palestinian Arabs. Those 300,000 Jews, most of which would probably leave for Israel anyway, are merely a drop in the ocean. What’s wrong with having a Jewish minority in an Arab State if we can have an Arab minority in a Jewish state? I think coexistence in a Palestinian state is possible as it currently exists with Israeli “settlers” who shop alongside their Palestinian counterparts at the same Rami Levy.