On Friday, Ha’aretz writer Uri Mark drew an “inspirational” solution to bring about the demise of the settlement enterprise and the consequent establishment of a contiguous Palestinian State. All it took, Mark argued, was the forced removal of 9,800 families—an estimated 46,000 Israeli Jews—from their isolated settlements across Judea and Samaria which are not part of the settlement blocks.
Take those 33 settlements off the map, Mark proposes, and you’ll end up with a clear area, ripe for a north-to-south Palestinian State.
Needless to say, Ha’aretz readers were not kind to this latest Modest Proposal (the first one having been published by Jonathan Swift in 1729 and involved slaughtering Irish children for food). The very notion that this or any other Israeli government would attempt to uproot 46,000 Jews after the country’s traumatic experience that followed the uprooting of some 8,000 Jews from Gaza, seemed autistic to many talkbackers. One of Ha’aretz’s most fervent enemy of the settlements, Gideon Levy, on Sunday called Mark’s proposal “Map of Delusion,” declaring: “The Settlers Have Won, We Have Lost.”
“The Zionist left and the European Union have been selling this illusion, and the Palestinian Authority, too, continues to stick to it – without it, it has no hope – and even Donald Trump mumbled something about two states,” Levy rebukes. “It’s comfortable for everyone. 50 years of occupation thanks to 50 years of delusion. Another 50 are possible, too.”
Doubtful that there will ever be an Israeli leader who would dare to evacuate 46,000 Israelis, or that there will ever be an Arab leader who would sign a consequent peace treaty, Levy repeats the mantra that only the complete return of Judea and Samaria to the Arabs would guarantee the desired, long-lasting peace.
Naturally, the Ha’aretz talkbackers were not kind with Gideon Levy, either. But the fact that appears to emerge from both the Mark and the Levy assessment is that the goal posts have been moved to the right in Israel’s public opinion: Israelis may not be gung-ho for the settlements or sovereignty, but to a significant majority the idea of a Palestinian State is unacceptable.
To put it a different way: it’s not so clear—judging by the attitudes of the High Court of Justice and of many coalition legislators—that “the settlers have won,” as Levy puts it, but there’s no doubt by now that the left has lost.