Views di­verge over ben­e­fits of set­tle­ments

The Jewish Chronicle - - NEWS - BY SI­MON ROCKER

IS­RAEL SHOULD be build­ing more set­tle­ments — just not in the Oc­cu­pied Ter­ri­to­ries.

That was the view of Ox­ford Univer­sity Is­rael stud­ies aca­demic Sara Hirschhorn who opened a panel de­bate be­fore a large au­di­ence at the Lim­mud con­fer­ence on Sun­day on the pros and cons of set­tle­ment con­struc­tion.

Dr Hirschhorn ar­gued that build­ing set­tle­ments within the Green Line would send out two mes­sages. Firstly, if West Bank set­tlers were evac­u­ated from their cur­rent homes, there would be a place for them to go.

Se­condly, it would show that the pi­o­neer­ing spirit within Zion­ism was alive and well. “For too long, [West Bank] set­tlers have been the most dy­namic camp in the Zion­ist move­ment,” she said.

Hannah We­is­feld, the di­rec­tor of peace cam­paign group Yachad, said that if peo­ple be­lieved in a two-state so­lu­tion then “con­tin­u­ing to build set­tle­ments in land des­tined for that fu­ture state of Pales­tine makes it much harder to achieve”.

She re­served par­tic­u­lar crit­i­cism for around 100 hill­top set­tle­ments which even Is­rael con­sid­ered il­le­gal.

But if they were sup­plied with run­ning wa­ter and elec­tric­ity, then the mes­sage be­ing given to them, she said, was “con­tinue do­ing what you are do­ing”.

Writer and ac­tivist Annika Hern­roth-Roth­stein de­fended set­tle­ments in Judea and Sa­maria, ar­gu­ing that they were not il­le­gal and that the main ob­sta­cle to peace was Pales­tinian re­jec­tion­ism.

She re­garded set­tlers in such places as “pro­tect­ing” her and act­ing as safe­keep­ers of an­ces­tral Jewish ter­ri­tory.

“We have a right to self-de­fence and there is such a thing as strate­gic de­fence when it comes to a coun­try that has a very, very nar­row waist,” she said. “We need that strate­gic depth es­pe­cially with the way that things are de­vel­op­ing in the Mid­dle East to­day — we have a right to sur­vive.”

A fourth speaker, Aryeh Tep­per, who lives on the West Bank, was un­able to take part in the de­bate due to trans­port dif­fi­cul­ties reach­ing the con­fer­ence venue in Birm­ing­ham.

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