Recent op-ed pieces in The New York Times have discussed the difficulties facing Israel and the Palestinians with regard to reaching a two state solution. One state, Israel, is already there. But there are many stumbling blocks to the establishment of a Palestinian state, and by far the greatest obstacle is the totality of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem.
It is often hard for Americans to put this problem in an understandable perspective. Many Americans, particularly American Jews oppose the settlements – in principle – and are not in any manner of speaking Zionists themselves. They do not believe in or support the Zionist concept of a Greater Israel. They fervently support Israel but within its internationally accepted borders. However, many look at existing Israeli settlements and tend to favor a gradual or partial reduction. And some do not support any reduction at all, only a cessation of future construction.
Such a position completely disregards Article 49 of the Geneva Convention that forbids an occupying power from moving civilians onto occupied lands as permanent residents. Both Israel and the United States have signed these Geneva Accords.
What are the true mathematical implications of the Israeli settlements?
Official Israeli figures show that 304,569 Israeli Jews are now living in settlements on the West Bank – land that is not part of the State of Israel. Additionally, although no official figure is made public by Israel, it is generally believed that another 190,000 Israeli Jews live in East Jerusalem – in the Arab section – in housing that was forcibly constructed after removing existing Arab residents. These unofficial Jerusalem settlements bring the total of Israeli Jews living outside the borders of Israel, in occupied Arab territory, to almost 500,000.
How can we, as Americans, comprehend the meaning of this number? After all, remember we are paying for it.
There are 5,593,000 Israeli Jews. About 8.84% of them are now living on land that does not belong to them or to their country. What if we, as Americans, were doing something similar?
The US Census says there are 304,059,724 people living in the United States. Imagine, if you can, that 26,878,900 citizens of the United States decided to move and go live in housing projects built on Canadian land – against the wishes of the Canadians – and then imagine that the US government took the position that all or nearly all of them should remain in Canada – forever – not as new Canadians, but as Americans! How would you feel about that – if you were a Canadian?
And now think about what is called “natural growth.” Human populations are not constant. People die and new people are born. In Israel the growth rate is currently 1.8% per year. However, in the settlements the rate is much higher. It is 5.7%. The settlers are younger and more determined to increase their strength of numbers. They are having babies on purpose for reasons that go way beyond family planning. Their rapid growth is religiously political.
That means by next year there will be almost 30,000 more Israeli Jews added to the existing settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - all without a single new settler moving in.
If you have a mortgage with a rate anywhere near 5.7% you already know that means the actual price of your home will be about 3 to 4 times the original loan amount within 20 or 30 years. So, if we had a Palestinian state established today, and if no more Israeli Jews moved into this new state – but those already there were allowed to remain and reproduce at their current rate – there would be a million and half to two million Israeli citizens – Jews not Arabs, Israelis not Palestinians – living in a Palestinian state in less than a generation.
That is the consequence of “natural growth.”
Do youthink the Canadians would like to have 100,000,000 US citizens living in their country in 2040.
Ask yourself a simple question: If you were a Palestinian Arab, could you start your own nation in 2009 or 2010 while having 500,000 citizens of another country occupy your land while actively growing themselves to almost two million in number by 2040?
When viewed properly, the math seems simple enough. There can never be a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem so long as any Israelis continue to occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Let Israel be Israel – but also let Palestine not be Israel too.