Support for Israeli settlements declining?

Posted: September 27, 2010 by Scott Kistler in Israel, Palestinians, Politics, The World-Wide World

Bradley Burston, a blogger with the Israeli newspaper Haaretz (in my understanding, a paper on the center-left of the Israeli political spectrum), writes:

Every revolution tends to believe that it is forever. Nowhere is this more evident than in Israel, for six decades cradle and crucible to concurrent revolutions.

But the fate of every revolutionary movement is to age, to fall prey to fissures and compound fractures, and to be astounded to find that one day, it has become history.

Now it is the turn of the settlers. Though the trappings of their past success remain, their revolution is broken. The settlement movement – along with the dovish revolution whose banner was land for peace – was shattered in the chaos of the Al-Aqsa Intifada.

In just six days in 2005, the single most indispensible figure in rooting settlements into the territories, Ariel Sharon, quashed a quarter century of Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip – at the approval of two-thirds of the Israeli electorate.

The settlement revolution has never truly recovered. Even as it insists that West Bank settlements can never be undone, the movement is both haunted and crippled by its own private Naqba, the loss of the dream of a Greater Israel in the Likud government’s disengagement.

Of late, figures of significance on the right of both the Israeli and American Jewish communities have begun to rethink the future of the settlers’ core redoubt: the West Bank.

As Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resumed this month, influential Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer astounded many colleagues on the right by observing that “No serious player believes it can hang on forever to the West Bank.

“This has created a unique phenomenon in Israel – a broad-based national consensus for giving nearly all the West Bank in return for peace,” Krauthammer continued. “The moment is doubly unique because the only man who can deliver such a deal is Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – and he is prepared to do it.”

The comments coincided with a number of indications of a beginning of change on the right and within the settlement movement itself.

Among the more intriguing is a group of young Israelis – some of whom grew up in West Bank settlements – who have moved back into Israel to resettle the abandoned kibbutz of Retamim in the central Negev.

The group includes the son of Pinchas Wallerstein, a former longtime leader of the Yesha Council, the effective government of the settlement movement.

The whole article is pretty interesting.  It seems that some believe that Netanyahu’s former support for maintaining the West Bank settlements will be replaced with a unilateral Israeli withdrawal.

Hat tip: Jeff Goldberg


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