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Where Ethnic Cleansing Is Permissible, by Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary via EoZ)

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Sept. 13, 2016

Though the U.S., its European allies, and the United Nations claim that the settlements violate international law, Israelis correctly note that Jews were guaranteed the right of settlement in the League of Nations’ Mandate for Palestine. The West Bank is not and never has been sovereign Palestinian Arab territory. The disposition of this land is a matter of dispute and subject to negotiation. The Israelis have repeatedly offered the Palestinians an independent state in almost all of the West Bank and even a share of Jerusalem but neither Abbas nor his predecessor, Yasir Arafat, could ever muster the will to say yes. If Palestinians still refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn, how can Israelis believe they would respect the rights of Jews who will be essentially defenseless?
That is why Netanyahu’s attempt to reframe the discussion about settlements requires more than the impatient dismissal it got from Washington. Nobody on either side of this conflict or in Washington believes for a minute that Jews in remote communities, let alone the hundreds of thousands who live in blocs along the border and in parts of Jerusalem (that were illegally occupied by Jordan from 1949 to 1967) can safely stay if their homes become part of a Palestinian state.

In any other conflict, we would label the Palestinian demand for the removal of Jewish communities (or those of any other group) with the same words used by Netanyahu: ethnic cleansing. But when it comes to Jews living in their ancient homeland, the rules are different, and bigotry is not only accepted but also supported. Until Palestinian hostility to the presence of Jews is addressed by both the U.S. and the international community rather than ignored, the peace everyone claims to be seeking will never happen.

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