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Tuesday, June 02, 2009

What they mean by 'natural growth'

The New York Times' Isabel Kershner tries to define what is meant when we discuss 'natural growth.'
That term has been defined vaguely by Israeli officials, meaning for some that settlements should expand to accommodate only their own children. But Mr. Netanyahu, of the conservative Likud Party, made his own wider position clear on Monday. He said that while Israel would not allow new settlements and that some small outposts would be removed, building within the confines of established settlements should go on.

Israel “cannot freeze life in the settlements,” he said, describing the American call as an “unreasonable” demand.

And in fact, whatever the American demands and Israeli definitions, the reality is that no full freeze seems likely.


The settlers’ annual population growth, at 5.6 percent, far outstrips the Israeli average of 1.8 percent. But official data from the Central Bureau of Statistics of Israel shows that while about two-thirds of that is a “natural” increase, as defined by settler births in relation to deaths, one-third stems from migration. There is also a disproportionately high level of state-supported building in the settlements compared with most regions of Israel.

And many critics of the settlement movement dispute the notion that settlers’ children have an absolute right to continue living in their parents’ settlement.

“A newborn does not need a house,” said Dror Etkes of Yesh Din, an Israeli group that fights for the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories. “It is a game the Israeli government is playing” to justify construction, he said.
The Times doesn't challenge Etkes, but the reality is that it has been almost impossible to move into Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria for years, except in towns that are part of the 'settlement blocs' that President Bush told Israel it would be allowed to keep in any 'final settlement' in his letter from 2004 that President Obama is now trying to disavow.

If two thirds of the population growth is the amount by which birth exceeds deaths in Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria most of the remaining third consists of newlywed spouses moving to the towns in which their partners were raised and the growth rate in two ultra-Orthodox towns that hug the green line and that are part of the 'settlement blocs': Moddin Ilit/Kiryat Sefer and Beitar. Kfar Tapuach - which the Times discusses as if it is part of a 'settlement bloc' - is well beyond the 'security fence.'

The reality is that the government has not subsidized building in Judea and Samaria since the first Oslo accords were signed in 1993. To the extent that building elsewhere in the country is subsidized (and it is in many ways that would take a very long post to describe), that's a mistake. If 'Palestinian' intransigence meant that Israel continued to settle Jews in Judea and Samaria, the 'Palestinians' might think about a compromise instead of holding out and waiting for the Obama administration to push Netanyahu out of office. And if Israel ultimately decides to expel Jews from their homes, it won't matter how many people live there. Ask the Jews who were expelled from their homes in Gaza.


At 7:37 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel is already expelling Jews from the outposts. So Israel is already enforcing American demands to make part of Yesha judenrein. Its hard work keeping that empty land that's not within earshot or eyesight of the Arabs free of Jews. No wonder the Yassam are kept busy.


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