They Say, We Say: Settlements are not an obstacle to peace

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:

Settlements are not an obstacle to peace. They take up only a tiny fraction, around 1%, of the entire West Bank.

We Say:

The "one percent argument" is a classic example of how supporters of the status-quo use a fraction of the truth to misrepresent the truth on the ground in the West Bank. Yes, the actual built-up area of West Bank settlements takes up only a little more than 1% of the West Bank. But the settlements' built-up area is just the tip of the settlements iceberg. The impact of the settlements goes far beyond this 1%.

Almost 10% of the West Bank is included in the "municipal area," or the jurisdictional borders of the settlements. These borders are so large that they allow settlements to expand many times over onto land that is completely off-limits to Palestinians.

In addition, almost 34% of the West Bank has been placed under the jurisdiction of the settlements' "Regional Councils." That is, more than an additional 1/3 of the West Bank has been placed under the control of the settlers, off-limits to Palestinians.

In total, more than 40% of the West Bank is under the direct control of settlers or settlements and off-limits to Palestinians, regardless of the fact that only a small portion of this land has been built on by settlers.

But the settlements iceberg is even bigger. Israel has taken hundreds of kilometers of the West Bank to build roads that serve the settlements, connecting them to each other and to Israel. They crisscross the entire West Bank, dividing Palestinian cities and towns from each other, and imposing various barriers to Palestinian movement and access. These roads don't only deny Palestinians contiguity; they also occupy a significant amount of land that is off-limits to Palestinians.

In addition, since 1967, Israel has expropriated fully 35% of the land in East Jerusalem as "state land" and used it almost entirely for settlements. Such settlements, and new settlement construction going on today, have the explicit goal of preventing the establishment of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem - which, in effect, means preventing the two-state solution.