Martin’s Myths – Elliott Abrams
(dailyalert.org, May 12, 2014)
Martin Indyk, the chief assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, continued the obsession over settlements – and the supply of misinformation about them. He spoke of “rampant” settlement expansion and “large scale land confiscation” for settlement expansion.
There is no “rampant” expansion or “large scale land confiscation” for settlements. Israel built 2,534 housing units last year in the West Bank. Of these, about a quarter (694) were in two major blocs near Jerusalem, Giv’at Ze’ev and Betar Illit, and 537 were in two other major blocs, Modiin Illit and Ma’ale Adumim, also near Jerusalem. These four, which will remain part of Israel, account for half of last year’s construction.
Only 908 units were built last year in Israeli townships of 10,000 residents or fewer, and most were built in towns that are part of the major blocs. Units built in areas that would become part of Palestine number in the low hundreds, approximately the rate of natural growth.
If Israel builds now inside settlement borders of major blocs it will certainly keep in any final peace agreement, it is not disadvantaging Palestinians today, nor is it making a final peace harder to achieve. Construction in the major blocs is not, nor was it an obstacle to peace talks before the administration foolishly made it so.
- The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. (Weekly Standard)