by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
the resumption of settlement construction in the West Bank yesterday,
Israel’s powerful settler movement hopes that it has scuttled peace
talks with the Palestinians.
would be misleading, however, to assume that the only major obstacle to
the success of the negotiations is the right-wing political ideology
the settler movement represents. Equally important are deeply entrenched
economic interests shared across Israeli society.
interests took root more than six decades ago with Israel’s
establishment and have flourished at an ever-accelerating pace since
Israel occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip after the 1967 war.
many Israeli Jews living within the recognised borders of Israel
privately acknowledge that they are the beneficiaries of the seizure of
another people’s lands, homes, businesses and bank accounts in 1948.
Most Israelis profit directly from the continuing dispossession of
millions of Palestinian refugees.
officials assume that the international community will bear the burden
of restitution for the refugees. The problem for Israel’s Jewish
population is that the refugees now living in exile were not the only
fifth of Israel’s citizens who are Palestinian but survived the
expulsions of 1948 found themselves either transformed into internally
displaced people or the victims of a later land-nationalisation
programme that stripped them of their ancestral property.
if Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, signed away the rights of
the refugees, he would have no power to do the same for Israel’s
Palestinian citizens, the so-called Israeli Arabs. Peace, as many
Israelis understand, would open a Pandora’s box of historic land claims
from Palestinian citizens at the expense of Israel’s Jewish citizens.
the threat to the economic privileges of Israeli Jews would not end
with a reckoning over the injustices caused by the state’s creation. The
occupation of the Palestinian territories after 1967 spawned many other
powerful economic interests opposed to peace.
most visible constituency are the settlers, who have benefited hugely
from government subsidies and tax breaks designed to encourage Israelis
to relocate to the West Bank. Peace Now estimates that such benefits
alone are worth more than $550 million a year.
from being a fringe element, the half a million settlers constitute
nearly a tenth of Israel’s Jewish population and include such prominent
figures as foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.
of businesses serving the settlers are booming in the 60 per cent of
the West Bank, the so-called Area C, that falls under Israel’s full
control. The real estate and construction industries, in particular,
benefit from cut-price land -- and increased profits -- made available
by theft from Palestinian owners.
businesses, meanwhile, have moved into Israel’s West Bank industrial
zones, benefiting from cheap Palestinian labour and from discounted
land, tax perks and lax enforcement of environmental protections.
Much of the tourism industry also depends on Israel’s hold over the holy sites located in occupied East Jerusalem.
web of interests depends on what Akiva Eldar, of the Haaretz newspaper,
terms “land-laundering” overseen by government ministries, state
institutions and Zionist organisations. These murky transactions create
ample opportunities for corruption that have become a staple for
Israel’s rich and powerful, including, it seems, its prime ministers.
the benefits of occupation are not restricted to the civilian
population. The most potent pressure group in Israel -- the military --
has much to lose from a peace agreement, too.
ranks of Israel’s career soldiers, and associated security services
such as the Shin Bet secret police, have ballooned during the
demands of controlling another people around the clock justifies huge
budgets, the latest weaponry (much of it paid for by the United States)
and the creation of a powerful class of military bureaucrat.
teenage conscripts do the dangerous jobs, the army’s senior ranks
retire in their early forties on full pensions, with lengthy second
careers ahead in business or politics. Many also go on to profit from
the burgeoning “homeland security” industries in which Israel excels.
Small specialist companies led by former generals offer a home to
retired soldiers drawing on years of experience running the occupation.
who spent their service in the West Bank and Gaza Strip quickly learn
how to apply and refine new technologies for surveillance, crowd control
and urban warfare that find ready markets overseas. In 2006 Israel’s
defence exports reached $3.4bn, making the country the fourth largest
arms dealer in the world.
groups fear that a peace agreement and Palestinian statehood would turn
Israel overnight into an insignificant Middle Eastern state, one that
would soon be starved of its enormous US subsidies. In addition, Israel
would be forced to right a historic wrong and redirect the region’s
plundered resources, including its land and water, back to Palestinians,
depriving Jews of their established entitlements.
cost-benefit calculus suggests to most Israeli Jews -- including the
prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu -- that a real solution to their
conflict with the Palestinians might come at too heavy a price to their
Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His latest
books are “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the
Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing
Palestine: Israel's Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His
website is www.jkcook.net.