Following up yesterday’s post on the settler attacks in and around the settler village of Burin, I have read several articles about the resumption in settler violence in the north of the West Bank. In addition to the attacks in Burin, Israeli troops were dispatched to the Palestinian town of Beit Furik to quell violence as settlers blockaded 11 intersections throughout the West Bank on Monday. The renewal of anti-Palestinian violence is perhaps a bitter preview of what life in the West Bank could be like after September 26 – the day when Israel’s settlement construction freeze is slated to end.
The Jerusalem Post notes that the Israeli government – who is being pushed to extend the construction freeze as a precursor to direct negotiations by the Palestinian government – will be faced with a choice come November: clash with the Obama Administration by refusing to extend the freeze or clash with the settlers by extending it. If the recent violence is any indication, settlers in Palestine will have no qualms in completely disregarding Israeli law and Palestinian rights in order to continue the colonization of Palestine. Indeed, today’s quote shows how dangerous the extremist settlers can be to the peace process and any future peace. From Haaretz:
“We haven’t seen an awakening like this in a long time,” Samaria Regional Council Chair Benny Katzover told Haaretz. “There were many intersections, and we had many people, 100 or 150 people. As we near the end of the building freeze, the public feels that it is necessary to stick to our guns and make it clear that if the freeze is extended, there will be no peace in Judea and Samaria.”
Quotations such as this one should – again should – open the eyes of anyone pushing for peace in Palestine. It is certainly clear that there is some obstructionism on the Palestinian side (though as I mentioned before, most Palestinians are more apathetic than defiant) – however the powerful aversion to the creation of a Palestinian state of settlers who act seemingly with impunity will undoubtedly threaten negotiations now and in the future.
Those who follow the Palestinian-Israeli conflict understand the threats to peace posed by extremists. The causal observer, however, must understand how defiant settlers represent an Israel that is not fully committed to peace.