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Does Freezing Settlements Help Peace?

When Israel became independent in 1948, Jordanian armed forces occupied Judea and Samaria, only to annex it later, an act declared illegal then by the Arab League. Only three countries, in fact, recognized Jordanian rule over Judea and Samaria: Britain, Iraq (then under the Hashemite rule), and Pakistan [George Washington University Law School (2005). The George Washington International Law Review. p. 390. Retrieved 21 December 2010, "Jordan's illegal occupation and Annexation of the West Bank"]. It would seem clear, therefore, that the only control over Judea and Samaria that has a foundation in international law is Israel’s; thus, Israelis building settlements there would be no different than Americans building housing projects in Massachusetts or Texas.

Further, it is worthwhile to look at what the settlements mean for the Palestinians suffering high unemployment rates in the Palestinian territories: thousands of them work in Israeli settlements. According to the Manufacturers Association of Israel, about 22,000 Palestinians were employed in construction, agriculture, manufacturing and service industries in the settlements. Nevertheless, in 2010, the Palestinian Authority banned its citizens from working in Israeli settlements under the threat of prosecution — an act that has angered the Palestinian public. They have a good reason to be angry: the Palestinian Authority fails to create enough jobs for them while the Israeli settlers offer them wages amounting to double the money they could make working in their hometowns. The Palestinian news agency, Maan, reports that the average daily wages for settlement workers were 150 shekels ($44) per day, compared to 76.9 ($22) in the Judea and Samaria and 46.2 ($13.50) in Gaza. Maan also quotes Israeli settlement leader David Ha’ivri saying that Palestinians working in the settlement were making close to three times the wages they would be making under the Palestinian Authority — confirming that the ban on Palestinians working in settlements had actually “never materialized.”

Freezing settlement activity therefore will only mean fewer jobs for the Palestinians, who will suffer with their families — and as the proverb has it, “A hungry man can be an angry man.”

Supporters of the freezing of Israeli settlements have yet to provide evidence that it helps peace. They also need to recognize that they are undermining the legitimacy of Israel’s right to its own soil, all while depriving Palestinians of their livelihoods and paving the way for more terrorist acts.

It is about time the peace process serves up some justice.

Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.org

About the Author: Mudar Zahran is a Palestinian writer and academic from Jordan, who now resides in the UK as a political refugee.


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