Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sparks for an Israeli Civil War? or a Third Intifada?

Two stories in Haaretz that grabbed my attention:
1. Israel's Supreme Court has ruled that the settlement "outpost" of Migron in the West Bank was built illegally, and that the government must remove it.

In the court ruling, the Supreme Court justices said that they recognize the difficulties surrounding the dismantling of such an outpost, which has already expanded to 50 families, but said this could have been avoided if the state had initially worked to better enforce the law and prevented the construction of Migron in the first place.

This is the first time the Supreme Court has ordered the state to dismantle an outpost in the West Bank, and the move brings the subject back onto the court's agenda. The decision to dismantle an outpost as large as Migron is likely to cause a political storm in the West Bank settlements.

2.  With a housing crisis provoking massive demonstrations, members of the Knesset are calling upon Mr. Netanyahu to alleviate that crisis by (can you guess?) . . . building more housing for Jews in the West Bank!

Forty-two cabinet ministers and MKs, all members of the Eretz Yisrael Lobby, signed a petition addressed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday, calling on him to solve the housing crisis that has swept up the country by building in the West Bank and Jerusalem.

The ministers and MKs wrote in the petition that “in light of the housing crisis throughout the country, we, as members of Knesset and signatories, call on you [Netanyahu] and the government to consider all possible solutions, including the immediate housing of tens of thousands of citizens in Judea and Samaria, as well as Jerusalem.”

In the few previous instances when the Israeli government has expelled settlers from outposts, the scene was not pretty.  Soldiers were attacked; settlers were forcibly hauled away, angry, wailing, vowing to return.  And this was only a few years ago, but in the time intervening, the influence of hyper-religious groups and their rabbis has increased notably among the ranks of the IDF - enough so for the government to be concerned that orders to evict settlers might be refused

Yet, a failure to follow through on the Supreme Court's decision - or worse, a decision to heed the advice of those MKs demanding more West Bank housing - will completely put paid to any hope of a viable deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

And, again, the scene will not be pretty.

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