APN's Ori Nir in The Forward: Israel’s Settlement Blocs Block Prospects For Peace

"Everybody knows,” goes the argument. “Everybody knows that under any future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, West Bank settlement blocs will be annexed to Israel.” And because everyone knows that, the argument goes, Israel should be allowed, even encouraged, to continue unhindered with settlement construction in the “blocs.”

Proponents of construction in settlement blocs argue the following. There is an Israeli consensus around the future annexation of the blocs once a peace agreement is signed. Even the PLO gave a nod of approval for such a scenario. Both Israelis and Palestinians have accepted the principle of “land swaps” (Israel compensating the Palestinians for lands it will annex east of the Green Line with Israeli land West of the Green Line). The US has made it clear that it will not insist on an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 lines. Given all that, they say, why not build in areas that “everybody knows” Israel will end up keeping and annexing? How could that damage future negotiations?

This logic is becoming so rampant that a prominent Washington expert on the conflict recently said: “If settlements are the problem, then the blocs are the solution.”

Really? Is more settlement construction here the solution to the problem that settlement construction there creates?

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April 19, 2017 - Marwan Barghouti and the Fatah prisoner hunger strike

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses Marwan Barghouti's op-ed in the New York Times about the Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike; why only 1,200 of the 6,000 prisoners convicted of terrorist offenses in Israeli jails are participating; the intra-Palestinian tensions at play; Barghouti's point about worsening conditions in Israeli prisons; the accuracy of some of Barghouti's assertions; why Israel can't release Barghouti and negotiate with him; and possible strategic implications of the strike and the background struggle for Palestinian leadership.

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Ori at CNUside-350x371APN’s director of communications and public engagement, Ori Nir, spoke at Virginia’s Christopher Newport University On March 30. He delivered the annual Borgenicht Fellowship Prize Lecture, sponsored by CNU’s Reiff Center for Human Rights and Conflict Resolution. His talk focused on shifting attitudes toward Israeli-Palestinian peace among the Israeli and Palestinian publics.

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There is a long way which is short and a short way which is long.

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Why did the Jews wander in the desert for 40 years before reaching their homeland? The Talmud teaches, “There is a long way which is short and a short way which is long.” What does that mean? Sometimes one sees what seems to be a better way — “the short way” — but it turns out to that, in reality, the way which seems easier is wrong. The shortcut taken ends up forcing one to go back and do what seemed at the outset to be harder, but was, in truth, the only legitimate way. It was from that seemingly tortuous, lengthy, journey that the Israelites learned to leave behind their slave mentality and do what was right, rather than what was easy or tempting. The Israelites’ journey turned out to be one in which there were important lessons to be learned.A Long Road

If 40 years in the desert was to teach us a lesson, what are the lessons we’re to learn from 50 years of occupation (10 years longer than the Jews wandered in the desert!)?

The lesson certainly can’t be that occupation brings security for Israel. Israel’s security establishment overwhelmingly believes that without bold political leadership, the occupation will lead to Israel’s destruction. Those tasked with Israel’s security — Mossad, Shin Bet, and officers in the IDF — overwhelmingly believe that occupation does not bring security, but does just the opposite.

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Yossi Alpher is an independent security analyst. He is the former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, a former senior official with the Mossad, and a former IDF intelligence officer. Views and positions expressed here are those of the writer, and do not necessarily represent APN's views and policy positions.

This week, Alpher discusses the settlement construction restrictions that Netanyahu just imposed upon his government in deference to the Trump peace effort; the lack of substance in the self-imposed restrictions; whether Netanyahu is pulling the wool over Trump’s and Greenblatt’s eyes; the likelihood that Trump and Greenblatt will soon put a peace proposal on the table; and changing US military and diplomatic behavior in the Arab world.

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There will be no "restraint"

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It's been a good couple weeks for supporters of West Bank settlements. On March 22, it was reported that new construction in settlements had risen by 40% in 2016. The next day, the U.S. Senate confirmed David Friedman – a staunch supporter of settlements – as U.S. ambassador to Israel.

It didn't end there.

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that a new settlement would be established – in the heart of the West Bank – for evacuees from the illegal settlement outpost of Amona. In effect, Netanyahu rewarded them for breaking Israeli law, which outlaws these outposts, by breaking international law under which all settlements are illegal.

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No Entry - Resources on the "Entry Law"

Entry_Law_Locked_Gate400The “Entry Law,” adopted by the Israeli Knesset on March 6, 2017, bans entry to Israel of foreign national who support or publicly engage in boycotts of either Israel or West Bank settlements, whether they do it individually or are affiliated with organizations that endorse such practices. This law uniquely affects APN, a Zionist, pro-Israel organization that advocates for boycotts of the settlements and the occupation while strongly rejecting boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) targeting Israel.

APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: “This new draconian law is a severe blow to Israeli democracy. It is aimed at a basic civil liberty, the freedom of expression, and will severely harm Israel by keeping out some of its greatest supporters, including Americans for Peace Now…We are a Zionist, pro-Israel organization, which cares about Israel's future as a democracy and a Jewish state. As such, we oppose the occupation and the settlements and call on our supporters to express this view by boycotting settlements. It would be absurd for the government of Israel to block us from visiting the country we love and care so much about because we chose to express a legitimate view in a legitimate way.”

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Peace Now Settlement Watch: The New Declared Settlement Policy - Not a Restraint at All

News from Peace Now:

Israeli media reports that yesterday’s government decision included not only operative steps to expand the settlements (i.e, establish a new settlement, publish tenders for 1,992 housing units, and declare 977 dunams as state land for the retroactive legalisation of 3 illegal outposts) but rather also a new government policy towards the building of settlement units. The new policy would enable continuous expansion of all settlements, without any limitations, contrary to how the government is trying to frame this.
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Press Release: APN to Trump: Don't be Netanyahu's April Fool on West Bank Settlements

Americans for Peace Now (APN) joins its Israeli sister organization Peace Now (Shalom Achshav) in condemning the Israeli government's decision to establish a new settlement in the West Bank, to publish tenders for some 2,000 new homes in West Bank settlements and to take measures that would allow for the retroactive legalization of three outposts built illegally, without initial government approval, in the West Bank.

APN also joins Peace Now's condemnation of the Israeli Cabinet's new policy of so-called "restraint," which in practice would allow it to continue with its unhindered expansion anywhere in the West Bank, including settlements adjacent to the Green Line ("settlement blocs"), more distant settlements, and East Jerusalem.  

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Interview with APN's Debra DeLee in J, the Jewish News of Northern California

Trump the peacemaker? Peace Now activist ponders the possibility

BY ROB GLOSTER | MARCH 28, 2017

A Jewish American group struggling to keep alive the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict hopes to get a boost from an unlikely source — Donald Trump. In February, the president publicly disavowed it as the best solution to Mideast peace and also appointed a staunch opponent of the plan as the U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Debra DeLee, president and CEO of Americans for Peace Now, who still sees the two-state solution as the only viable way for Israel to survive as an independent and democratic nation, said Trump’s reputation as a non-ideological dealmaker could be a “terrible detriment or it could be a very small, possible ray of hope.”

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