Over the week-end, I was talking to a friend who expressed surprise at a picture on the front page of the NYTimes (December 5), showing IDF forces dragging settlers from a house in Hebron. The removal had been ordered by Ehud Barack, the defense minister, and former pm. My friend at first thought the military were dragging Palestinians. Why?Well because that's what we're used to seeing. The removal was followed by settler attacks on Palestinian houses and property.Daniel Levy has a post at TPM describing how dangerous the situation has become with the Settler Movement on the West Bank. He sees serious implications for the Obama Administration. His post is well worth reading. Here aretwo snippets:
I want to focus for a moment on the consequences for American policy, and in particular for a new Administration. The U.S. is on paper opposed to settlement expansion. The U.S. narrative, though, has shifted. Initially settlements were characterized by the U.S. as "illegal" -- that description was dropped by the Reagan Administration and never returned to. Settlements became no more than "unhelpful" and later on an "obstacle to peace" -- a language which the Bush Administration has occasionally used. What the U.S. has not done is to take a firm, consistent, and unrelenting position that Israel uphold its commitment to a settlement freeze -- and without such U.S. action, the Israeli cost-benefit calculation on settlement expansion vs. freeze is always skewed in favor of the former.
Many groups in the U.S. (including right-wing Christian Zionists) provide financial support to settlements and settler causes (see here and here), often to 501(c) 3s as tax-deductible, charitable contributions, and that is something into which an investigation is long overdue. Jewish groups in particular should be vocal in their opposition to settlements (see Bernard Avishai on J Street here at TPM). After the Shin Bet Chief spoke of certain settlers groups posing a security threat, my colleague Steve Clemons suggested on his blog that the U.S. investigate and place those in question on the Terror Watch List. U.S. efforts to support the Palestinian economy and ease the closure and checkpoints (for details see the U.N.'s OCHA website) are undermined most of all by the existence of settlements scattered throughout the West Bank, which are protected by the IDF, have their own access roads, whose residents demand freedom of movement, and whose existence largely dictates Israeli-imposed restrictions on Palestinian mobility.