Are set­tle­ments in Is­rael ma­jor ob­sta­cle to peace?

Hindustan Times (Patna) - - HTWORLD - Yash­want Raj let­ters@hin­dus­tan­

JERUSALEM: The aroma of Shab­bat cook­ing filled the house. The cook­ies on the ta­ble looked a poor sub­sti­tute. But noth­ing else was on of­fer. Just then the fam­ily dog came skid­ding in.

“Barb,” Bob Lang said, the tone just per­fect, not too harsh, not too soft. Bar­bara, his wife, quickly let the dog out into the back­yard.

Lang heads the re­li­gious coun­cil of Efrat, a Jewish set­tle­ment es­tab­lished in Is­raeli oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory of West Bank in 1983.

Efrat is a gated com­mu­nity of pros­per­ous Jewish set­tlers -- Lang is a dairy farmer -- sur­rounded by hos­tile Pales­tinian neigh­bours kept away by armed guards.

Lang says Jewish set­tlers tried work­ing with Pales­tini­ans but hadn’t had much success. “They are un­der threat of death if they co­op­er­ated with us.”

The sit­u­a­tion is a lit­tle more com­pli­cated. Th­ese set­tle­ments are con­sid­ered il­le­gal in­ter­na­tion­ally and would be part of Pales­tine in an even­tual peace deal.

Is­raeli government an­nounced 3,000 fresh set­tle­ments last week in re­tal­i­a­tion to the Pales­tinian Author­ity win­ning UN recog­ni­tion as a non-mem­ber state.

“The set­tle­ments are the worst thing we could have done,” said Alexan­der Yakob­son of the He­brew Univer­sity of Jerusalem.

Is­rael shut down 18 set­tle­ments in the Si­nai penin­sula in 1982 af­ter an agree­ment with Egypt.

That wasn’t easy. The Gaza Strip set­tlers found sup­port all over the coun­try.

Lang was a part of those protests. And he con­ceded set­tlers never had much of a chance.

Even though, he said, the Gaza Strip set­tle­ments were shut down for the sake of peace, “we have found no peace”.

Gaza mil­i­tants fired hun­dreds of rock­ets into Is­rael cities -reach­ing close to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem -- over an eight-day con­flict late Novem­ber.

Pales­tinian mil­i­tants of the Ezze­dine al-Qas­sam bri­gade in the Gaza strip on Fri­day.

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