With settlements the biggest friction point between the US and Israel, it’s time to reflect on their usefulness. They are the best Israeli response to Palestinian terrorism, and they exact a real price from the Palestinians for their recalcitrance.
Military strikes on the Palestinian Authority are insufficient, and buffer zones are a chimera. The current, intolerable wave of terrorism demands an additional Israeli response; a policy that will truly punish, perhaps deter, Yasser Arafat’s evil regime. Time to expand and strengthen our settlement presence in Judea and Samaria!
Expand settlements, you ask in incredulity, when they are under the sharpest attack ever? Expand settlements – and bring down upon ourselves global condemnation?
Absolutely! Building up the Land of Israel is the right response to Palestinian terrorism. A Zionist response. It’s also sweet revenge. In Palestinian eyes, the expansion of settlements is truly punitive; it is the one Israeli policy they fear most.
Understand: I’m not saying that Israel needs another ten tiny, indefensible outposts near Jenin, nor need we spot isolated caravans around Ramallah. But indeed we ought to selectively strengthen the Israeli foothold in areas of national consensus and strategic importance across Judea and Samaria.
Fight fire with fire. The terrorists want to chase us off this land; in response, let’s lay stake to more land each time they fire a shot.
Consider the alternatives. The Government of Israel is not about to nuke Gaza nor retake Nablus. Sharon and Peres are running out of abandoned PA police buildings to bomb. They might try razing Palestinian homes that give shelter to terrorists, but our magnificent High Court of Justice is now blocking just such a demolition order. Remember too: the last significant demolition operation carried out, in Rafah, brought us more trouble than it was worth. “Inhumane” it was, bawled the Left.
More roadblocks and the digging of trenches? Well, each group of soldiers manning a roadblock now has become a target in itself. Both needy Palestinian day laborers and the depraved suicide bombers somehow manage to get across the “seam”. I doubt that “buffer zones” are likely to help much.
Then, there’s Ariel Sharon’s la-la idea to build a fence or a wall around Jerusalem. Don’t forget the moat with crocodiles in it. Seriously: if such a fence is to be built, better that we should pre-dig the tunnels underneath it. That way, the IDF will know exactly where to look for Palestinian infiltrators.
The wall could be useful for two additional reasons. Its height will provide Palestinian gunners with a known trajectory, so that appropriate shooting angles can be calculated in advance for each weapon type — Iranian mortars, home-made kassam missiles, Hezbollah-supplied katyusha rockets, etc. Jews might yet need the new edifice as an alternative Wailing Wall, particularly if Barak, Beilin or Ben-Ami return to power.
It certainly makes no sense to hand over more land to the PA, because appeasement is the worst policy and Arafat’s terrorist gangs already have enough maneuvering room. Instead, with every terrorist outrage, we should *take over* more land, and build, build, build.
It is in our national interest to develop the French Hill to Maale Adumim continuum on Jerusalem’s north-eastern flank; to expand Givat Zeev southwards to Ramot; to build Har Homa II; and to complete the eastern ring road – all of which will strengthen our hold on Israel’s historic national capitol.
It is in our national interest to promote significant settlement growth in the Jordan Valley, using economic incentives to attract new residents, and providing the financing to help kibbutzim in this strategic sector fill-in the large gaps between their farms.
It is in our national interest to “thicken” and promote rapid “natural growth” in the string of wonderful communities that line the Samarian ridge overlooking Gush Dan – from Alfei Menashe through Peduel, down to Nili and Kiryat Sefer.
The same expansion arguments hold true for the Dolev-Talmon block, which sits on the critical Yarqon-Tanninim aquifer; as well as settlements in the southern Hebron Hills, from Eshcolot to Carmel, which are but a few minutes away from Beersheba and Arad. We should move rapidly to build the planned Beit Shemesh to Jerusalem mountain highway, intended to swing by Beitar and nearby Gush Etzion.
With every terrorist outrage, the government should speed-up construction, increase the building budget, expropriate more “Palestinian” land, and ever more grandly celebrate the start of each new neighborhood. With fanfare. International and Palestinian press invited.
A policy of proud settlement in response to terrorism – alongside continuing military action where possible — will allow our country to regain the initiative, to recover from a dangerous loss of self-confidence, and to exact a real price from the Palestinians for their recalcitrance and barbarity.
And if it scares a sobered Palestinian leadership back to the negotiating table, so be it.
Originally published in The Jerusalem Post on February 24, 2002