Monday, August 12, 2013
A Little Perspective on Settlements
By Micah Halpern
I've Been Thinking:
There has been much shouting and finger pointing these past few days over the decision by the Israeli government to build 1,200 housing units in the West Bank.
The shouters and finger pointers claim that the decision is at best counterproductive to peace talks. In fact, they have condemned Israel for torpedoing the upcoming second round of talks.
I say that a little perspective is required here. I am neither justifying nor do I need to justify Israel's decision, but that reaction is over the top.
One of the agreements decided upon by the Palestinians and the Israelis was that there no longer needs to be a total cessation of settlement building in order to come back to the negotiating table.
The vast majority of the 1,200 units are actually in Jerusalem, not in far flung settlements. They are in neighborhoods where residents pay taxes and get local bus service and garbage collection from the municipality of Jerusalem. They are over the 1967 lines, but they are part of Jerusalem.
Almost 800 of the 1,200 apartments will be built in Jerusalem: 400 in Gilo; 210 in Homat Shmuel; 183 in Pisgat Zeev. The other communities to receive units are huge city-like suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The settlement Ariel will get 117 units; Efrat will get 149; Ma'ale Adumim will get 92 units; Beitar Illit will get 36.
Ariel has nearly 20,000 people in it. Beitar Ilit has 50,000 and Maale Adumim has nearly 50,000 people. They are each only a few seconds drive from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv.
Perspective, it's important.
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