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December 9, 2016 3:11 am

To Preserve the Settlements, Build a National Consensus

avatar by Gidon Ben-zvi

Email a copy of "To Preserve the Settlements, Build a National Consensus" to a friend
View of an outpost situated near the Israeli settlement of Shiloh, outside of Jerusalem. Photo: Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90.

View of an outpost situated near the Israeli settlement of Shiloh, outside of Jerusalem. Photo: Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90.

If you missed the news about Israel’s recent reported bombing of a Hezbollah arms convoy and a Syrian Army site in Damascus, you’re not alone. There is a glaring lack of media coverage about Israel’s ongoing campaign against terrorism in Syria.

In comparison, Jimmy Carter’s recent call for the Obama administration to recognize the state of “Palestine” generated an avalanche of headlines, commentary, tweets and social media posts.

Why the discrepancy?

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Part of the reason is that there is a national consensus in Israel for attacking Hezbollah’s efforts to move arms in Syria, and for punishing the Assad regime.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s repeated vows to prevent Hezbollah from obtaining “game-changing” weapons — specifically, advanced anti-aircraft systems or chemical weapons — is an accepted position across the Israeli political spectrum.

And this is why Israel’s increased involvement in such a flammable corner of the world is not being obsessively covered by the media, or generating international opprobrium.

If a solid majority of a country’s citizens consistently back their government’s clearly defined policy on a certain issue, then there is no chronic problem that needs to be fixed by an international consortium of media elites, bearded professors and well-coiffed diplomats.

But the Palestinian situation? That’s a different story.

Why? Because for too long, Israeli leaders on the Right and Left have sought an international seal of approval for the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria, believing that once such a consensus was reached, the Israeli public would be willing to accept it.

This is the exact opposite of the approach that’s needed. International unanimity is not the key to resolving outstanding issues regarding Israel’s presence in the West Bank. Internal unanimity is.

The development of a clear set of widely approved policies, for example applying Israeli law over large settlement blocs expected to remain under Israeli sovereignty, will douse the flames of international indignation — and generate more support at home.

And Progressive thinkers who want to criticize Israel will simply have to rally around a new cause.

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