They Say, We Say: "The term 'settlement bloc' merely describes an objective reality on the ground."

They Say We Say We know that pro-Israel does not mean blindly supporting policies that are irrational, reckless, and counter-productive. Pro-Israel means supporting policies that are consistent with Israel's interests and promote its survival as a Jewish, democratic state.

You've heard the arguments of the religious and political right-wing, and so have we. They've had their say. Now, we'll have ours.

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Are settlements really a problem?

They Say:

The term “settlement bloc” merely describes an objective reality on the ground. There is nothing controversial or political about the term or its usage – it is just the anti-settlement Left that wants to make it into an issue.

We Say:

The term “settlement bloc” has no official, legal definition even in Israel. Rather, it is informal, extremely flexible, and entirely political. In the early years of the settlement movement, the term was used rarely, and then only to refer to areas in the West Bank (and Gaza Strip) where groups of settlements had been established in genuine close proximity to one another and near the Green Line. In contrast, today the term is used to refer to huge and ever-expanding swathes of the West Bank. These “blocs” encompass settlements that are located at great distances from one another and from the Green Line. In this way, the “blocs” are being used to take control over large areas of West Bank land, both through settlement construction and related expansion on the ground aimed at thickening the “blocs” and at expanding them to include settlements located at ever-greater distances from their centers.

Likewise, the term “settlement blocs” has no meaning or legitimacy under international law, which views all settlements as illegal, regardless of their proximity to one another or to the Green Line, irrespective of whether they are located east or west of Israel’s separation barrier, and notwithstanding any alleged Israeli “national consensus.” Consequently, neither settlements located in blocs, nor the blocs themselves, are recognized by the Palestinians or the international community as having any special status. Moreover, construction in the blocs is clearly barred under Phase I of the 2003 U.S.-authored Roadmap, which states: "[The government of Israel] freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)."

And notably, these “blocs” don’t just include settlements. Many of the “blocs” – as de facto defined by the route of the Separation Barrier – include what even Israel recognizes to be private Palestinian land. Moreover, if one were to take a radius from the center of a “bloc” like Gush Etzion, Givat Ze’ev, or Ariel, a large percentage of the population – in some cases a majority – is Palestinian.