Shaul Arieli
Haaretz (Opinion)
October 3, 2012 - 12:00am

"More and more people are internalizing the fact that our presence here as emissaries of Israeli sovereignty is a fait accompli," declares Dani Dayan, head of the Yesha Council, the mainstream settler leadership, in a short promotional film summing up the past year. This film is part of a tremendous effort on the part of supporters of a Greater Land of Israel to prove the baseless claim that the settlement enterprise has succeeded in making the idea of two states devoid of substance, and that therefore Israeli sovereignty must be applied on the West Bank. This claim has recently appeared in dozens of articles and speeches, and it stems from one of two sources - either an insufficient acquaintance with the reality of the Israeli settlement enterprise in the West Bank, or a conscious political attempt to distort this reality to create the feeling that there is no other choice.

It is true that over the years the settlements have driven a network of wedges between the clusters of Palestinian villages. But these wedges did not create a Jewish dominance that would make unilateral annexation possible. According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, the number of Israelis in Judea and Samaria is tens of thousands fewer than the 400,000 that Dayan declared were there, and hundreds of thousands fewer than the 650,000 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a year ago in the United States. Some 85 percent of the settlers live in the settlement blocs that cover less than six percent of the area of the West bank. In the rest of the area, there is a clear Palestinian dominance. The number of Israelis living outside the blocs is only 2.6 percent of the population, while inside the blocs, it soars to 95 percent.

The built-up area of the Israeli settlements outside the blocs covers less than 0.4 percent of the area of the West Bank, and is 17 times smaller than the Palestinian built-up area, while inside the blocs, it is six times larger.

Less than two percent of the settlers live in 89 percent of the settlements that are outside of the blocs, while inside the blocs there are three large towns, such as Modi'in Illit, that have 40,000 residents or more. Inside the blocs, there are another 15 settlements with up to 10,000 people each, such as Efrat and Alfei Menashe. With regard to the use by Israelis of transportation infrastructures in the West Bank, those who do not live there drive only on 293 kilometers (which are 10 percent ) of the roads outside the settlement blocs (such as Routes 90 and 443 ), and the settlers drive on another 19 percent. The other 71 percent of the roads are used exclusively by Palestinians. On the other hand, inside the settlement blocs, 83 percent of the roads are used by the Israelis. This is a reality of de facto separation.

Ninety three percent of the Israeli construction in the West Bank is for residential purposes and 85 percent of the settlements are urban in character, without industrial or agricultural zones. In the 14 Israeli industrial zones, most of the workers are Palestinians and in the fertile agricultural lands of the Jordan Valley, their number rises to almost 95 percent. This means that most of the settlers who work are working inside Israel and therefore will not have to change jobs when a final status agreement is signed. Moreover, the number of households that will have to be absorbed in Israel, according to the Israeli or Palestinian proposals at the Annapolis peace talks, will not be greater than 30,000, while the reservoir of housing units planned in Israel now stands at more than ten times that number.

This compilation of facts describes a reality that is different from that which is seen by an Israeli passing in haste through the West Bank on a quick and modern road built on behalf of the settlements alongside it. That Israeli does not see the Palestinian majority on the other side of the hill that has been controlled since the first intifada by "Israeli sovereignty," with an unprecedented investment of military and economic means. This is the Palestinian majority that the devotees of the Greater Land of Israel are now making such efforts to hide and which in the future they aspire to banish to the eastern side of the Jordan. This is the same Palestinian majority from which Israel must be separated, and the sooner the better.


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