Ali Abunimah writes:
Israel’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, Danny Ayalon, paints a picture of an innocent Israel yearning for peace, virtually begging the intransigent Palestinians to come negotiate so there can be a “two-states-for-two-peoples solution” (“Who’s stopping the peace process?” Dec. 14). But it’s one that bears no resemblance to the realities Palestinians experience and much of the world sees every day.
Ayalon claims that the settlements Israel refuses to stop building on occupied land are a “red herring” and present no obstacles to peace because in the “43 years since Israel gained control of the West Bank, the built-up areas of the settlements constitute less than 1.7% of the total area.”
But let us remind ourselves of a few facts that are not in dispute. Since the Palestine Liberation Organization and Israel signed the Oslo peace agreement in 1993, the number of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, has tripled to more than half a million. Ayalon’s deceptive focus on the “built-up areas” ignores the reality that the settlements now control 42% of the West Bank, according to a report last July from the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.
B’Tselem points out that there are now more than 200 Israeli settlements “that are connected to one another, and to Israel, by an elaborate network of roads.” These roads, along with various “security zones” from which Palestinians are excluded, cut across Palestinian land and isolate Palestinians in miserable and often walled, ghetto-like enclaves.