Kadura Fares
Haaretz (Opinion)
March 27, 2008 - 12:03pm

Housing Minister Ze'ev Boim explained away the construction of 750 new housing units in the settlement of Givat Ze'ev by saying that the permits had been issued in 1999, but that construction had stopped due to, as he put it, the "outbreak of violence." That is, the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising. According to Boim, the contractors went to court, and as a result of their petition, the government ordered the construction's approval. Boim was talking, it seems to me, to Israelis and overseas leaders critical of the renewed construction. He did not notice that Palestinians were also listening to him.

I am one of those who listened, and I understood from his statements that Boim is inviting us - the Palestinians - to start another intifada. Boim's statements reminded me how, at the end of the last decade, at the height of the peace talks, when we were closer to the finish line than ever before, the Israelis continued unremittingly to build settlements. That is the case today: After Annapolis, the Paris conference, and the renewal of talks on the highest level, Israel is once more expanding its settlement construction.

The conclusion: Only when we launch an uprising does construction in the settlements cease; under the umbrella of negotiations, the settlement enterprise is revived. This, despite the fact that every Palestinian and every Israeli knows that the settlements are the main obstacle to a peace treaty.

Fortunately, the present Palestinian leadership consists of people like me who continue to believe, despite all the difficulties, in a peaceful solution to the conflict, through dialogue and negotiation. We are on the verge of despair, but we still hope that the Palestinian people will get what they deserve through diplomatic means.

We have a bitter dispute with those who believe that only violence will bring independence and freedom. Do the members of the Israeli government hear our voices as well, or do they listen only to those calling for armed struggle? I know that such a struggle will not lead to surrender on either side, but rather only to suffering, mourning and loss. Does the Israeli government also understand this?

I listened closely to the Israeli housing minister's statements. They have one clear meaning: Do you want to stop construction in the settlements? Violence is the only way. Dialogue with the Israeli government will not help. Explanations about the damage settlement construction causes to the peace process will not help. Neither will stressing the despair this construction sows among the Palestinians - who see how Israel determines facts on the ground although the reality should be determined in negotiation.

Attempts at reminders that the Palestinians have a right to their land and that settlement construction is a breach of international law are of no avail. All of this will not stop the construction, which is a disaster for Palestinians and a disaster for Israelis, since all of our lives depend on attaining an Israeli-Palestinian agreement.

What will help? A violent uprising. That is the only thing, according to the Israeli housing minister, that will bring about the cessation of construction in the settlements and protect the Palestinian interest.

Mr. Boim, we got the message. Will anyone in Israel yet accuse you of incitement to rebellion and resistance?


American Task Force on Palestine - 1634 Eye St. NW, Suite 725, Washington DC 20006 - Telephone: 202-262-0017