Saturday, November 21, 2009

And how, after all, shall we dismantle the settlements?

The State of Israel knows one method only of dismantling settlements (if and when). Soldiers come - very many soldiers, whole masses of them. They enter into a settlement, grab every individual settler by the arms and legs, and carry them away.

It is a bad method, very difficult to implement, which imposes a huge burden on the army, and gives settlers the maximum opportunity to resist (by loud shouting and sometimes also by physical force). Most importantly, settlers get a chance to stage a huge show for the local and international media.

The system happened to have been invented by a man named Ariel Sharon. He made use of it when evacuating the North Sinai settlements in 1982, and again at the Gaza Strip settlements (Gush Katif) in 2005. Not by chance did he resort to this method, and not because he was unable to think up a more efficient way of doing it. It was on purpose, because Ariel Sharon wanted to demonstrate how difficult and complicated the dismantling of settlements is - even of small ones. Because Ariel Sharon wanted to say to the entire world: "See how hard it was to remove even a few thousands of settlers, so don’t expect us to remove hundreds of thousands".

The problem is that the world does expect hundreds of thousands of settlers to be removed. Because they have settled in Occupied Territory, in violation of International Law. Because they are blocking with their bodies the creation of an independent Palestine - which means that they also block any possibility of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, indeed they block the possibility that Israel will become an accepted and legitimate part of the region where it is located. So, how to remove them?

In fact, such things already happened in other countries and places around the world. Algeria, for example, was for 120 years under French rule, and many French settlers went there - about a million and a half. Some of them were fourth generation, or even fifth generation, born on Algerian soil. And despite the fact that no God had ever made them a Divine Promise of that land, they very strongly insisted on regarding Algeria as part of France, which should always stay such. They resisted by force - a lot of force - any idea that France withdraw. And there were many attempts to stir up mutiny among the soldiers.

How, then, did Algeria become an independent Arab state, which just this week won a soccer match with Egypt? How did French President Charles De Gaulle succeed in removing a million and a half settlers? Had he commanded the army to grab each and every individual settler by the arms and legs and take them on board a France-bound ship, even ten times the soldiers of the entire French Army would not have been sufficient for the task.

But De Gaulle simply announced to the settlers the date on which the army would leave and Algeria become an independent state, giving every settler the free choice of evacuating or remaining. Settlers who stayed were offered the choice between Algerian citizenship, French citizenship or a dual one. In practice, almost all of them went back to France (and did not do too badly there).

When finally an Israeli government will come into being which will seriously intend to make peace with the Palestinians, it will likely take up the de Gaulle Method. Once settlers have been informed of the date for the IDF's departure and the Independence of Palestine, they will undoubtedly cry out very loudly indeed - and long before the designated date, the great majority of them will depart, under their own power. The Government will only have to provide some trucks - to move their furniture.