I’d like to respond affirmatively to your June 29 editorial, “For Israel, Time to Give Back.” But one very solid thing that Israel should try harder to do, both for itself and for diaspora Jewry, is to resolve its conflict with the Palestinians with a two-state solution. It is this ongoing problem that physically endangers the small and medium-sized Jewish communities outside of North America and Israel.
It’s true that this failure is not Israel’s alone, but Israel’s attachment to the ongoing settlement project is crucial to keeping the conflict going. Why continually spend money to expand into Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem (even evicting some families from their homes) and to build new housing units in the West Bank?
There has long been an understanding with the Palestinian Authority that most settlements may be absorbed into Israel in an equal exchange of Israeli sovereign territory, but not those that would disrupt the territorial integrity of a new Palestinian state. Hard bargaining needs to be done on the future of Ariel, Ma’aleh Adumim and other such far-reaching settlements. But it’s only logical that constant Israeli expansion in the very areas subject to negotiations undermines the possibility of negotiations. Should the right to build in Ariel, and other settlements not contiguous with Israel’s pre-1967 border, undermine the future of all of sovereign Israel, and possibly of diaspora Jews as well?