Why the West Bank Settlers Are Not a Barrier to Middle East Peace

Jewish settlements continue to be built on the West Bank, and those who hope for a two-state solution in the Middle East can often be seen wringing their hands in despair over the question. The thought of trying to tear down the settlements and return all the settlers to Israel seems politically impossible, as well as a logistical nightmare.

What's the problem here? The settlers elected -- in violation of international agreements and Israeli promises -- to live in what will become a Palestinian state. So let them. If they don't like it and want to return to Israel they can. Or they can stay where they are -- after all, millions of Arabs live in Israel.

The settlers may object that the Israeli government has at times colluded in their invasion of the West Bank, but they need to be reminded that state collusion in a criminal act is no protection under international law.

I think Israelis should be encouraged to live wherever they want -- with the clear understanding, however, that when the peace agreement is made, the West Bank is part of the Palestinian State. All of it. The settlers are, after all, outlaws and invaders. The West Bank is to Israel what the Sudetenland was to the Nazis.

The settlers acted in the belief that Israel was an outlaw state that would support their covert aggression, and redraw the boundaries of Israel to include them.

But why should law-abiding Israelis agree to such a corruption of their nation's ideals? Let the settlers go. They asked to live outside Israel. Let them have their wish.

(In his inauguration speech, Obama talked of a whole new way of doing things. To understand the cultural paradigm shift that engendered this change -- the shift that both Bush and the Taliban have resisted so fiercely, see my website for information on THE CHRYSALIS EFFECT: THE METAMORPHOSIS OF GLOBAL CULTURE).