Last year, during a visit to Israel, I stayed in a small very nice village called Kafr Edumim, located on the road between Jerusalem and the Dead sea in a remote area in the Judea desert. There are no Palestinian settlements anywhere near it. Kfar Edumim was built after the 1967 Six Days war on a deserted land captured by Israel after the 1967 war. It is part of the Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria that their existence is being challenged by Europeans, who like to label them as “illegal”, as if the land was stolen from the Palestinians.
Instead of appreciating the unbelievable accomplishment of the Israeli settlers, who turned unused desert land into an oasis, Kfar Edumim and other settlements in the area, are considered to be obstacles in the peace negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians. No one seems to remember, or care, that in 2005 Israel tried that approach when it forced the evacuation of Israeli settlements from the Gaza strip. Israel handed over to the Palestinians a land which was turned by Israeli settlers from a desert wasteland into successful agricultural communities. The Palestinians failed to maintain it and in few short years the land returned to be a desert. Today, no one is benefiting from this land (accept for Hamas, the terror organization that uses the area to launch missiles into Israel).
Israel is unlikely to repeat the same mistake again. The false simplistic view of most of the world, when it comes to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, calls for cementing the territorial status-quo between the two sides; meaning stopping Israel from expanding into areas which are considered by many as the natural future expansion territories of the Palestinian state, if and when it is finally formalized.
The problem with this concept is that it is founded on an imaginary, unrealistic foundations as if there is such thing as a territorial status quo in this region or anywhere else in the world.
While people tend to focus on the small area called Judea and Samaria by many Israelis, or the West Bank by the rest of the world, nations are expanding into new territories around the world all the time. It is a natural, unstoppable process. Here are some examples:
Miami, Florida: If you traveled through the Miami airport in recent years, you couldn’t avoid wondering if you are still in the US; the most common language in this airport is Spanish (including announcements over the loudspeakers in the passenger lobby) . I know that first hand; I live in South Florida and use this airport few times a year. I’m quite certain that 50 years ago the dominant language in this airport was English. However, over the years, immigration from Latin America changed the demographic makeup of this area, just like it happens in many other American cities.
As a matter of fact, English wasn’t the first language to be spoken in the Miami area; the Tequesta Indians lived in this area long before the European invasion of America. Will Spanish be the dominant language in this airport 200 years from now? It is impossible to predict, however, if the trend continues, it is likely to be a different language, spoken by the next wave of immigrants, whoever they might be.
Western Europe: There are plenty of examples of how West Europe is going through a demographic change; a massive immigration wave from North Africa is changing the makeup of countries like France, England, Italy, Germany, and the Scandinavian countries. The language hasn’t changed yet, but the Christian religion is increasingly under pressure by the growing number of Muslims. Will the Christian religion maintains its place 200 years from now? It is impossible to predict. However, I don’t see how this demographic pressure on the existing population will be resolved without a violent conflict at some point in the next 50 years.
Russia recently grabbed Crimea by force, separating it from the Ukraine and making it a Russian territory. The world may be upset by the uncivilized act, but the fact is that the world map is changing all the time.
There is no such thing as status quo and there is no such thing as a static demographic map. In fact, with the population acceleration around the world, there are likely to be more demographic changes, not less. Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) must be viewed in this context; it is a part of the natural process and it will continue; it is unstoppable.
For that reason, pressuring Israelis to stop expanding into these areas will not work as it didn’t work so far. It is likely that 200 years from now, Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) will continue to be part of Israel and Jewish population will continue to increase there.
Israelis (Jews) are split on this issue; half of the country is for expanding Israeli settlements, while the other half is against it. I’d like to conclude this article with a video showing what happens when the Left (against settlements) meets the Right (for settlements). See below.
- What Israelis think about the settlements?
- The winners and losers of the vote against Israel in the UN