Brit Tzedek v'Shalom
Jewish Alliance for Justice and Peace
The following is an Editorial in the Chicago Tribune from August 8, 2002. The area mentioning BTvS is highlighted in bold.
Rumsfeld and the settlements
Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleezza
Rice are set to meet Thursday and Friday in Washington with a high-level
Palestinian delegation, a development devoutly to be welcomed. No one is
expecting any breakthroughs. Still, with the violence in Israel and the
Palestinian territories at an unprecedented pitch, any and all efforts aimed
at getting the combatants to take a breather should be encouraged.
The talks come as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators are gingerly
discussing economic incentives for the Palestinians along with an Israeli
security plan approved Wednesday by the Palestinian Cabinet. Under the plan,
Israeli troops would gradually withdraw from Palestinian areas, starting
with the Gaza Strip, in exchange for Palestinian guarantees that no
terrorist attacks would be launched from those areas.
These and numerous behind-the-scenes efforts are aimed at a land-for-peace
deal under which Israel would eventually withdraw from territories it
captured in 1967 and a peaceful, demilitarized but independent Palestinian
state would be established there.
It was, therefore, unfortunate to hear Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
suggest Tuesday that Israel might not have to turn over what he referred to
as "so-called occupied territory" to the Palestinian Authority and might not
have to remove its settlements from that territory.
While Rumsfeld's remarks to a group of Pentagon employees do not reflect
current U.S. policy, Palestinian leaders might understandably wonder whether
they reflect future U.S. policy. The Palestinians are already suspicious of
the administration, perceiving that it tilts unfairly toward Israel. Whether
the remarks signal a policy shift, they are likely to encourage Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hard-line approach to the conflict and make it
harder for the Israeli government to start de-occupying areas of the West
Bank and Gaza Strip. And despite their desire not to appear to reward the
continuing Palestinian terror campaign, a majority of Israelis still support
removing most of the settlements in exchange for peace.
Even if they aren't bothered by the illegal status of the settlements, most
Israelis understand the political reality that they will never have peace
unless the Palestinians get their longed-for state. Most Israelis also
understand that Israel cannot remain both Jewish and democratic while it
rules over an Arab population that is reproducing faster than its Jewish
Perhaps most compelling in the near term, Israelis understand that a
continued occupation with no political settlement in sight will impose
military and economic burdens they are not willing to shoulder for very
long. According to a recent poll by the Israeli Peace Now movement, even a
majority of the settlers are ready to give up their homes in the
territories, in return for appropriate compensation, and move back inside
Israel's pre-1967 borders.
Peace Now has called on the Israeli government to set up an agency to help
settlers relocate, by stopping the flow of subsidies that keep people in the
settlements and using some of that money to establish a fair compensation
program. At the same time, a U.S. group called the Jewish Alliance for
Justice and Peace, which describes itself as pro-Israel but anti-occupation,
proposes that the international community, led by the U.S., establish a fund
to make it possible for settlers who choose to leave to do so.
Not a bad idea.