They Say, We Say: "Why shouldn’t Israel be able to build in areas that everyone – including the Palestinians - knows Israel will keep in any future peace agreement?"

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:

Why shouldn’t Israel be able to build in settlement blocs? These are areas that everyone – including the Palestinians - knows Israel will keep in any future peace agreement? Opposing construction in the blocs transforms a non-issue into an excuse for Palestinian intransigence and for people to unfairly criticize Israel.

We Say:

Construction inside the settlement “blocs” isn’t a non-issue. When Israeli and Palestinian negotiators start talking seriously about settlements, they won’t be spending a lot of time debating the future of isolated settlements, because these settlements would unquestionably have to be removed under a peace agreement. The real negotiations, the very difficult ones, will actually be over the so-called “settlement blocs”: their size and contours, the way they will be connected to Israel, and the land swaps that will be used to offset them. This is why settlement expansion in these areas is equally if not more harmful to the two-state solution than construction in the isolated settlements.

Given the facts on the ground today, reaching agreement on these blocs will already be challenging. Expansion of these blocs – of the settlements in them and of the blocs themselves (both to include outlying settlements and to create new blocs, like the “Beit El bloc” that has recently been raised in pro-settlement talking points) – threatens to make the issue even harder, if not impossible, to resolve. And notably, the blocs – which are actually large land enclaves – include not only settlements but also large numbers of Palestinians in adjacent villages.