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Occupation magazine - Settlements

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Kiryat Arba settler population is shrinking

Debra DeLee, CEO, Americans for Peace Now
debradelee@peacenow.org via mail.salsalabs.net
Jul 31


Early this week, the Washington Post ran a piece titled, “In the settlement
of Kiryat Arba, the demand is to expand.” If you just read the title, you
might think it was about the continuing growth of Israel’s settlements. If
you only read the first few paragraphs, you might think that it was about
the shocking murder of Hallel Ariel and the cynical use of her death to
promote settlement growth.

But read to the end and you find that Kiryat Arba – one of the most iconic
and radical of the ideological settlements, the settlement home to Baruch
Goldstein (y”sh), who murdered Muslim worshipers at the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb
of the Patriarchs in 1994 – is shrinking. Settlers there are given to lament
that “political considerations and outside pressure means nothing changes.”

So it is no surprise that in the same article, when the Washington Post
wanted to learn the facts about Israeli settlements from an authoritative
source, they turned to Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran.

Acknowledged as the foremost expert on settlements, Hagit has helped build
awareness of the threat that they pose to Israel’s viability as a secure,
Jewish, democratic state. It is through her efforts, and those of others at
Peace Now, that money for settlements and plans for their expansion – which
Netanyahu and his government would like to keep under wraps – are revealed.
It is through their efforts that documentation is produced allowing the
U.S., the international community, and countless organizations around the
world to fully understand, track, and condemn settlement expansion in the
West Bank.

In fact, you might call Hagit “the Settlement Whisperer” – her expertise and
unflagging determination has done more to expose and tame the settlements
than otherwise would be the case.

Despite claims of population growth by the proponents of the “Greater
Israel” project, and despite the Netanyahu government pouring money into
shoring up and expanding settlements, an examination of the numbers actually
proves that the Israeli settlement enterprise in the West Bank has failed.
There are few Israelis willing to move outside of the Green Line these days,
and despite all the governmental incentives and efforts over the last 49
years, only four perecnt of Israelis are settlers.

As it turns out, “outside pressure” and “political considerations” work.

And it’s not only the settlements themselves – pressuring businesses that
are active in the West Bank has also worked. Despite government-provided
incentives for companies to help entrench Israel’s hold on the West Bank,
several high-profile companies have recently decamped back to within the
Green Line. Not only that, but twenty to thirty percent of Israeli companies
from a list of them compiled 20 years ago are no longer there.

The trend is clear: Israelis do not want an economy that is anchored in the
occupation.

Even as we recognize the difficulty of the struggle for peace, we must not
forget that we are having an effect on the ground. It’s because of the
efforts of Peace Now and Americans for Peace Now – and because of your
support – that we have slowed the tide, and through which we will eventually
turn that tide.

APN and Peace Now will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to oppose
the settlement enterprise that threatens Israel’s future. Help support Hagit
Ofran and all of Peace Now’s efforts to make sure that Netanyahu’s policies
are revealed and brought to a halt.

We cannot do it without your help. Please make a generous, tax deductible
gift to support our work.

Sincerely,
Debra DeLee
President and CEO
Americans for Peace Now
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