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Subject: 129-Religious_Settlers_11_93

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Report No. 129 Israel Shahak, 26 November 1993

The settlements and the religious settlers


The Rabin government's support of the Jewish settlement in

general and the fiercest possible resistance of especially the

religious settlers to the same government can be defined as two

crucial issues of the current Israeli politics now. More

remarkably, it can be shown that in supporting Jewish settlement

Rabin is supported by the U.S. A clarification of these paradoxes

is in my view possible only via an inquiry into what really goes

under the name of "peace process" in terms of the Israeli

government's deeds and its presentation of those deeds to its

citizenry. This report will first describe the actual policies of

the Rabin government toward the settlers in general and the

religious settlers in particular, and next discuss the ideology

of the religious settlers which commands them to defy that

government with steadily mounting violence, perhaps in spite and

perhaps due to that government's persistent efforts to propitiate



Some more perceptive Hebrew press commentators already realize

that Rabin is no less zealous than Shamir in safeguarding the

interests of all Jewish settlers in the Territories, but with

more circumspection. Also clearly noticed have been the

contradictions between those policies of Rabin and his support to

Oslo Agreement with the PLO, opposed by the settlers. Both points

were elaborated by Meron Benvenisti ("Haaretz", November 11,

1993). After Rabin's amicable meeting with leaders of the

religious settlers on November 10 which occurred right after

strident demonstrations under the slogan "Rabin is a traitor",

Benvenisti observed that "for all the differences in the ideology

the chasm between the two positions is not as deep as some would

like to depict it", yet in practice they "cannot be easily

reconciled, especially during the present stage of negotiations

with the PLO". In substanttiation of his thesis, Benvenisti

points to "the extraordinary generosity with which the government

keeps disbursing money to the settlers for all their daily

activities which include their anti-Arab demonstrations and acts

of vandalism against the Arab property. The gasoline fuelling

their cars and used for burning the tyres blocking the highways"

(and, as other sources describe, Arab property as well.) "The

settlers also use their radio equipment, paid for by the

government, to coordinate their blockades". They receive salaries

[too many to describe them here], all of them "defrayed by lavish

supplies of money from the very same government which they detest

so fiercely". More curiosities of the same kind will be described

later, in the context of discussing the U.S. support for Rabin's

policies toward the settlers.


In order to clarify the real intentions of the Israeli

government, the chief political correspondent of "Haaretz", Uzi

Benziman (November 12), points to three contradictions concealed

in the text of the Agreement with the PLO. "The first and the

most important of them is between the avowed [Israeli] intention

to transfer the Territories to PLO's administration and the

intention to preserve all Jewish settlements in form in which

they now exist. The thus ensuing potential for violent

confrontations makes it downright improbable that both goals

could be reconciled... If Israel indeed wants to withdraw from

the entire Gaza Strip, its withdrawal is doomed to be very

selective, at least during the interim period when some Israeli

army troops are to remain in the Strip. In other words, on the

one hand Israel avows its urgent intention to leave the Strip so

as to spare its soldiers the need to cope with its rebellious

population, but on the other hand, it envisages a solution in the

framework of which it will keep its troops in the same Strip in

order to protect Jewish settlements under conditions which may

well turn out much worse than present". It will be shown that the

Israeli government aims at more than a mere "protection of Jewish

settlements". Benziman's second contradiction stems from

scheduling the beginning of the negotiations for a permanent

solution for March 1996, i.e. two years after Israel is to

withdraw from densely populated areas of the Gaza Strip and from

the Jericho enclave. As Benziman sees it, no one as "reasonable"

as the Israeli negotiators are, would want to now spend so much

time and effort for seeking a solution which is anticipated to

remain in force no longer than until March 1996. The third

contradiction lies in the fact that it does not make sense "to

reach an agreement with the PLO and at the same time to court

Jordan with all the ardor". Benziman makes no attempt to resolve

those contradictions, perhaps because in those days "Haaretz"

strains itself badly to depict the situation in terms as

optimistic as possible, regardless of how much cover up such as

effort requires. The realities of Israeli domestic politics in

general, and of the attitude towards the settlers in particular,

to be described below, will help understand it. Insofar as Jewish

settlements are concerned, there is in my view no contradiction

but a coherent policy.


It is clear why Israeli policies toward the settlement, which

in Israel are frequently reiterated and persistently implemented,

cannot be openly forced on the Palestinian public. As shown in

Report 127, beginning with the end of September a broad Israeli

political consensus emerged around the so-called "five noes"

formula. This consensus can be now looked upon as encompassing

the entire Labor, a majority of Likud and the two Haredi parties,

but not the religious settlers and their supporters. Meretz's

real attitude toward it remains in doubt, but this fact has no

political relevance after Meretz's announcement that "it will not

bring the government down whatever the latter may do, so as not

to halt the peace process". For the purposes of this report only

two noes are of relevance: "no to abandoning any Jewish

settlement, and nope to the imposition of any restraints upon the

Israeli army anywhere in the Territories".


The real implications of these two noes can best be understood

from the probing article by the military correspondent of

"Hadashot", Alex Fishman (October 20). Fishman describes "a

pattern of the interaction which in the last few weeks was

evolved in the Territories between the [Israeli] army and the

Jewish settlers. The Defense ministry and the regional Commands

of [the Israeli army] have established full partnership with the

settlers in seeking solutions to the latter's survival and

security problems in the interim period. In every settlement the

Security Coordinators were asked to prepare documentation

concerning their security problems... Senior officers from the

Commands are visiting every settlement. Every documentary file is

checked together with the settlers... All settlements are

cooperating with the [Israeli] government after coming to the

conclusion that the two sides now have common interests. After

all, the settler files provide Israel with data to be used in the

Tabah negotiations. Even more importantly, the settlers and the

government are united in their resolve to tolerate in the interim

5 year period no precedent that might hurt the [Jewish]

settlement cause".

Fishman concludes, rightly in my view, that "the status quo

with regard to Jewish settlement has become an iron wall

surrounding them". The concept of "an iron wall" has been

borrowed from a historic article by Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the

ideological founding father of Likud, published as long ago as

1925. For whole decades it was regarded by the entire Zionist

Labor movement with genuine or faked revulsion. The "iron wall"

means that the Zionist state should behave like a feudal lord

dominating his realm by means of his heavily armored knights

intervening from behind the walls of an impregnable castle, in

order to maintain a status quo, or a "custom", even when

incompatible with the medieval notions of "justice".


In its declarations, Israel claims to be interested only in

defending the "security" of the settlers. Really, it wants to

maintain the status quo, whose nature needs an elaboration since

it is not well understood outside Israel. Fishman says that "the

[Israeli] authorities pay serious consideration to the ways of

protecting the settlements from corrosive impact of natural

factors for five years henceforth. For example, the Gaza Strip

settlement of Netzarim is located within the municipal boundaries

of Gaza City. The inhabited areas of the settlement and Gaza City

are separated by an empty space, some of it under cultivation.

Suppose the Gaza municipality, freed from Israeli control,

decides to extend its areas of habitation and build new

neighborhoods up to the fence surrounding Netzarim. The presently

obtaining security conditions will be thus adversely affected.

The same will be the case if Israel builds a new highway to

Netzarim, bypassing Gaza City, but the Gazans are allowed to

build houses alongside that highway. This is why in Tabah

[negotiations] Israel is seeking to prohibit housing construction

within some reasonable radius from each Jewish settlement and on

both sides of highways serving those settlements". Obviously, the

demands of this type can be even more decisive for the future of

the West Bank, which has much more Jewish settlements, some of

them in close proximity to some relatively large Palestinian

cities like Nablus, Ramallah, El-Bireh, Bethlehem or Hebron, not

to mention hundreds of villages. If applied in all the

Territories, such demands will ensure not only their permanent

domination by Israel from behind the iron walls of the

settlements, but they will also forestall any meaningful

Palestinian economic development and any rise in Palestinian

standard of life, contrary to all lofty declarations.


In an earlier article ("Hadashot", October 15) Fishman

explained the military role of Jewish settlements in the Gaza

Strip and of the highways linking them in terms of their serving

as means of the perpetuation of Israeli domination over the

Palestinians living around them. "Most [Israeli] troops now

deployed in the Gaza Strip need to be redeployed in the Katif

Bloc, which will also be surrounded by a military fence and a

road for the patrols... Several new highways will link the Katif

Bloc with the Gaza Strip settlements not included in it, namely

Kfar Darom, Netzarim and the whole bloc of Jewish settlements at

the northern tip of the Gaza Strip. Those highways must be

extended so as to ensure a direct link between Israel and the

Egyptian border in Rafah. But the problem is not the construction

of those highways, nor obtaining sufficient budget allocations

for them. The problem is how to ensure that the Israelis can

drive safely on those highways for 24 hours a day? This is why

joint patrols of the Israeli army troops with the Palestinian

police are needed. They need to patrol together those highways

and to oversee together the entry points to areas under the

autonomy. This is one of the most sensitive issues of the

Agreement's implementation. The Israeli army wants to cooperate

with the Palestinian police as thoroughly as possible, by

performing joint operations, joint patrolling in every locality

and exchanges of intelligence. But if this doesn't work the army

has also prepared contingency plans which do not envisage any

dependence on the Palestinians. If the joint patrols prove to be

not to their liking, the army will patrol whatever spots it may

consider necessary without them. If they refuse to pursue the

wanted in the autonomous areas together with the Israeli army,

the latter will pursue them there alone".


The case of Netzarim is particularly instructive. It was

described in detail by Nahum Barnea ("Yediot Ahronot", October

1). Netzarim is a decaying kibbutz now inhabited mostly by Gush

Emunim extremists, who are not doing any work. They just study

Talmud, for which they have all their expenses covered by the

government. As Barnea explains it, "the original intention" of

founding Netzarim "was to wedge a Jewish settlement between Gaza

and huge refugee camps located south of it, which in the Israeli

army's lingo are called `the camps of the center'. Like an

isolated fortress, the kibbutz is surrounded from all sides by

huge chunks of Arab populated land. It is separated from the

Jewish populated areas both in Israel and in the Katif Bloc". As

gleefully explained by "a senior in the [Israeli] Security

System, charged with overseeing arrangements for the Israeli army

withdrawal from the concentrations of Palestinian population",

the Oslo Agreement to this scheme, because it "stipulates that

all settlements are to stay on, so that every single settlement

turns into a fortress of military value. Had Netzarim been merely

an Israeli army base, the Palestinians could demand its

abandonment, along with other bases located in the midst of

densely inhabited chunks of the Gaza Strip which the army is

going to abandon. But since Netzarim is plainly defined on the

map as a kibbutz, the Israeli presence is assured there. The

Israeli army can use it for effectively establishing its presence

between the city of Gaza and `the camps of the center'". Hence,

concluded the senior, "had Netzarim not existed, it should have

been invented", because it makes it legal "to turn this

settlement into a roadpost concealing the fortress containing

sizable Israeli army forces". Barnea is right when, after showing

the army support for the religious settlers in Netzarim, he

concludes that "it may yet become a pattern of things to come".

Barnea's prediction was fulfilled during the first weeks of

November, when the Palestinian delegation to the Taba and Cairo

talks suddenly noticed the strategic position of Netzarim and, as

reported by the Hebrew press, asked Israel to evacuate it as "a

gesture". Some Hebrew press commentators have also, rather

timidly, pointed out the difficulties which must result from

keeping of this settlement and the roads leading to it. However,

as reported by "Hadashot" (November 26), Rabin firmly announced

to the Knesset Labor faction, that Israel will insist on keeping

Netzarim. Rabin was also questioned about the results of the

elections to the Bir Zeit University Student Council, in which

the list supported by Arafat was defeated. He responded by making

a comment which shows the nature of the domination which he

expects Israel to wield, through the PLO, over the Palestinians:

"When the Palestinian Police will be present in Bir Zeit, I will

know about the results of such elections in advance".


Rabin government support for settlements has an effect of

encouraging the Gush Emunim settlers, who are ready to settle in

places like Netzarim where their less zealous brethren are

unwilling to go. This may be noticed in particularly sensitive

spots of the West Bank. Hanna Kim ("Hadashot", 8 October)

reported how "during a secret visit, not publicized by the media,

Fuad [Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, the Housing Minister] laid a

cornerstone for a new neighborhood in Efrat [south of Bethlehem].

Despite the avowed policy of freezing the settlements, the

Housing Minister used that occasion to confide to MK Hanan Porat,

one of the project's initiators and a champion of the Gush

Emunim's cause in the Knesset, that hundreds of new and heavily

subsidized housing units were going to be erected there. Yitzhak

Rabin personally instructed the Housing Minister to oversee the

erection of that neighborhood. Although called `new', the

neighborhood is designed to expand greatly Efrat area and attract

throngs of new settlers". Kim also noted that "the Housing

Ministry of Binyamin Ben-Eliezer [Fuad] continues to fortify the

settlements around Jerusalem, and has recently completed the

construction of the most expensive and majestic highway in all if

Israel, which links Gilo with Gush Etzion [both in the West

Bank]". She also gives examples of construction in places remote

from Jerusalem. In Ma'aleh Efraim "the Housing Ministry recently

approved the construction of 45 new housing units to accomodate

650 families". For that purpose, "a project approved by the

Shamir government years ago, but frozen three years before

Labor's rise to power was recently unfrozen".


The best overview of Rabin's settling policies and of the U.S.

covert support for them can be found in an article by Ya'ir Fidel

("Hadashot", 29 October) which merits an extensive coverage here.

Fidel shows that Rabin government subsidizes the settlers no less

than the Shamir government did. The government purchased and

keeps covering the daily expenses of the settlers' buses used for

bringing the settlers and their supporters to demonstrations in

Jerusalem. "A distinct paint of these buses has enabled the TV

watchers to see their presence" at demonstrations. Expenditure

for them was budgeted under the name of the `transfer of funds

for purchasing whatever may be needed for settlers' local

councils and other public associations'. Gasoline for journeys to

demonstrations is paid for via the budgets of local councils

which are subsidized by the government almost in their entirety".

The same scheme is used to pay for "communication sets the Gush

Emunim activists use to spy on the army, and for other items the

settlers require, like public address systems, the generators,



"But `transfer of funds for purchasing whatever may be needed'

is only a small fraction in a long list of special budgetary

expenditures which the Labor-Meretz government has in the last

year been shovering the settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip

with. Data collected in the ministries for the purpose of writing

this article show that the Rabin government has only slightly, if

at all, reduced the previous budgetary allocations for the

settlements. Declarations are one thing and reality is another.

The change in priorities, which Rabin touted upon forming his

government, did not affect at all the magnitude of settlers'

expenses... The budgetary cuts which this government has effected

were limited to the infrastructure for unfinished projects, to

construction projects about to begin from scratch, to investment

in new industrial plants, and partly to government subsidies for

expansion of the already existing factories and (also partly) to

paving the new roads".


The difference between the declarations and the reality was

achieved by a crafty ploy. A committee, chaired by Sheves, the

director general of Prime Minister's Office, was set up which

much publicity. It recommended cutting the government expenditure

for the development of settlements. In secrecy, however,

implementation of this recommendation was made contigent on

conclusions reached by two other committees. "The deliberations

of these two committees, held at the government offices in

Jerusalem, do not attract attention of either Israeli or foreign

media, whose membership is known only to a few. One of them is

headed by Yehezkel Harmeleh, a former Likud mayor of Rehovot. His

committee will determine the rate at which the Sheves Committee

recommendations are to be implemented. Meanwhile, during the past

year the government granted the settlers new tax deductions to

the tune of 25 million dolllars", while Sheves Committee's

recommened to cut their present huge tax benefits. The magnitude

of the new deductions can be estimated on the basis of Fidel's

comment that even before they were granted, "simple arithmatic

shows that if Sheves' committee recommendations are implemented,

an average settler family would lose $1,000 annually through

payment of taxes equivalent to what an average Israeli family



"The Su'ari Committee is expected to determine uniform criteria

of subsidization of municipal authorities by the government. In

the past year the government allocated over $85 million to the

settlers' local councils in the Territories. The Interior

Ministry allocated about $60 million, mainly for salaries of the

employees of those councils. For comparison's sake, the Interior

Ministry allocates about $500 million per year to all local

councils and municipalities in Israel. It follows that the

settlers, whose numbers amount to no more than 2.4 percent of the

Israeli population receive 12 percent of municipal budgets. This

budgetary largesse for the local councils in the Territories has

a consequence: almost half of all the settlers are civil

servants, receiving salaries from the government either directly

or via the local councils. According to a rough estimate prepared

by government ministries [but not published], about 45 percent of

Jews residing in the Territories are employed in the public

sector. For comparison, according to the data of the Central

Bureau of Statistics, the percentage of public sector employees

in Israel amounts to 25 percent. True, in some populous

settlements the percentage of civil servants is close to the

latter figure. Among them are all the towns and settlements

located near Jerusalem, or along the Green Line. Most residents

of such towns and settlements hold ordianry jobs inside Israel,

which means that their social profile doeas not differ much from

other Israeli Jews. But this only means that in hard-core

ideological settlements of Gush Emunim, the percentage of civil

servants on the state's payroll is much higher". There exist

quasi-official estimates which appraise the proportion of the

religious settlers who really are state employees at about 70%.

In my view, if added to this figure are all employees of all

kinds of religious institutions (which are also financed by the

State of Israel) we may end up with an estimate as high as

90-95%. The figure becomes credible through the simple expedient

of taking a walk in Kiryat Arba in order to roughly compare the

number and the size of local businesses with the size of the town

and the number of its inhabitants.


Here is my own personal testimony on how the Israeli government

winks at fictitious occupations for the religious settlers

(Letter-to-the-editor, "Davar", November 15). "I happen to live

near the residence of the Prime Minister, and I use this as an

opportunity for regular talks with the religious settlers from

the Territories who keep demonstrating in front of that

residence. Customarily, I ask them a question: `Since you will

get back home in the Territories long after midnight, how will

you be able to work tomorrow?' Their answers do not leave doubt

that their `occupations' are one big fiction. They may be

nominally defined as a job in a local, regional or any other

council, in a yeshiva, in an association for studying Talmud, or

some other fiction may be invented: but the fact remains that no

one could care less whether such an "employee" reports in the

morning to work or doesn't. The masses of Gush Emunim militants

are on the state payroll for just being what they are. Rabin is

supplying his worst enemies with money extracted from our



"Last summer the religious settlers demonstrated for an entire

week on the `Hill of Roses' opposite the Knesset, I went to meet

them there. I passed by a religious settler talking to one of the

handful of secular settlers from the Golan Heights. The former

asked the latter: `Why hardly any from the Heights are here?'

`Because we are busy harvesting cotton', he answered. The Gush

Emunim militant then commented: `Harvesting money in government

ministries is more profitable than harvesting cotton'". My

conclusion was that "Rabin has done nothing to halt the torrent

of money to the religious settlers, nor the torrent of lies about

their supposed jobs. Rabin's generosity still makes it possible

for the religious settlers to live their parasitic lives, and it

provides them with enough free time and resources to organize

their demonstrations against him".


But somewhat more covertly, Rabin's policies are also supported

by the U.S., especially under the Clinton Administration. Fidel

tells how in "August 1992", Rabin as the newly elected Israel's

Prime Minister, met Bush in Maine. A part of the meeting was

spent discussing the settlement issue in relation to Rabin's

request "to unfreeze the loan guarantees in the amount of ten

billion dollars, which the American Administration had frozen

earlier, in retaliation for the Shamir government's investments

in the settlements in the Territories... Somebody from the Prime

Minister's inner circle reconstructed the course of the meeting

from memory: `Right after getting to the subject of the

guarantees, Bush raised the issue of the settlements and of

immense sums of money that Likud government had been spending on

them. He wanted to know what Rabin intended to do". A discussion

ensued during which Rabin announced his intention to continue to

support the settling of the Territories to a considerable extent.

Rabin then declared: "I am not going to expand the settlements

beyond the natural growth of the settlers who are already there".

Bush responded: "if so, I am going to subtract the pertinent

figure from the total of loan guarantees. According to the

agreement I have with the Israeli government, dating from the

Likud administration, everything Israel invests in the

Territories can be subtracted from the loan guarantees." Rabin

agreed: "If you subtract just what we allocate there, we agree."

Rabin's agreement was a deception. Rabin encouraged further

settling in places he used to call "security settlements" which

included the so called "Great Jerusalem", extending over 15-20%

of the entire West Bank area, the Jordan Valley, the Golan

Heights, the Katif Bloc and much else.


Fidel comments that continuity of Israeli settlement policies

can be seen in that "orally Rabin corroborated agreement in

writing concluded by Shamir, which stipulated that the U.S. had

the right to cut from the loan guarantees any money which Israel

invested in the Territories". The only difference was that under

Shamir such agreements were kept top secret. Fidel also says that

"Bush learned from that conversation that Rabin intended to

continue disbursing lots of money for settlements. But he did not

demand that Israel discontinue the disbursement. He only said

that the pertinent sums would subtracted from the loan

guarantees". As mentioned, the Shamir government was careful to

keep its real settlement policies secret. Fidel describes how it

was done. "Under Shamir the funds were channeled via different

ministries in all kinds of ways. Moreover, the Shamir government

made it impossible to compute the total amount of these moneys".

Rabin's government, however, "was forced by Bush to submit to the

Americans a detailed inventory of all expenses on the

settlements, as a condition of obtaining the loan guarantees from

the U.S. government".


Clinton Administration, however, gave up even this minor gain.

Fidel tells how "members of a low-ranking American team visiting

Israel met twice with the high-ranking Finance Ministry

officials, Aharon Fogel and David Brodet and the Prime Minister's

financial advisor, Ilan Plato. The Americans came to determine

the method of computation... It was decided that the Israeli

Central Bureau of Statistics would make all computations alone,

without being oversee by any Americans. This decision meant that

the Americans were granting Rabin a significant discount. First

of all, they let Israel alone submit all the data. Second, they

accepted the Israeli view that not everything Israel was spending

in the Territories was to be taken into account and that Israel

was to decide how to categorize the expenditure in question. But

even more significant was the tacit agreement of the Americans to

leave open the question of Israel's investments in the parts of

Jerusalem annexed in 1967. During the second meeting the

Americans were notified that the total obtained by Israeli

computations amounted to $430 million. The Americans did not even

try to question this figure. Unlike their predecessors under

Bush, they did not come out with satellite photographs which

could be compared with figures concerning construction in the

Territories they were provided with. They received explanations

about how the figure in question could be broken down by

ministries, said O.K, took the documents and went home. In truth,

the figure presented to the Americans was by $270 million lower

than the one computed by the [Israeli] Finance Ministry when the

latter did not yet know that the U.S. would consent to ignore

Israel's investments in East Jerusalem. The Finance Ministry then

estimated Israel's yearly investments beyond the Green Line as

amounting to $700 million. The criteria of that computation were

the same as those of the Central Bureau of Statistics".


No wonder Israel did not protest when the U.S. announced that

an additional sum of $7 million would be subtracted from the

guarantees, because the actual Israeli expenditure amounted to

"$437 million, $7 million more than reported by Israel". As Fidel

comments, the difference was supposed to be "accountable for by

Israel's investments in East Jerusalem. The government ministers

knew that in their generosity to Israel, the Americans had

substracted only $7 million from the guarantees instead of the

$270 million Israel invested in East Jerusalem". But the latter

figure is also untrue. Israeli investment in East Jerusalem

cannot but be much higher. In private, "a very senior Israeli

official", allowed himself to grumble. "In a correct relationship

such as ours with the Americans such things are not done".


According to him, "the Americans accepted our data and suddenly

they toss a new figure into the thin air without bothering to

notify us. Moreover, they previously told us that the settlements

were an obstacle to peace and therefore they would cut the funds,

but now that argument will no longer hold. Now we are making

peace while keeping the settlements, yet they keep making their

subtracions. We are taking the risks on the road to peace, for

which they should show some consideration instead of subtracting

from the guarantees". Another "very senior official close to

Yitzhak Rabin" (probably Sheves), was more honest. He said: "I do

not care about the subtractions. Let them subtract even more,

since they give us so much. But they should grant us funds to

cover the exorbitant expenditure of the withdrawal from the Gaza

Strip and Jericho and of the resultant military redeployment. We

have to pay back the guarantees in any case, so perhaps the less

they amount to the better. But we should obtain grants. Besides,

Christopher already told us that subtractions caused by the

settlements might yet be annulled".


Yet "some Likud MKs, mainly Dan Tihon, tried to raise hell.

They were quickly silenced by the government, evidently after

they were told the secret. A senior Israeli official explained

that by the way of a symbolic subtraction the Americans managed

to kill two birds with one stone. They signalled to Israelis that

they could construct in East Jerusalem without incurring any

financial penalties, and they gave the Palestinians what they

like above all else, namely the symbols, by making it explicit

that East Jerusalem was considered an occupied territory". No

wonder Fidel, after listing allocations for the settlements

figuring in every ministry's budget proposals for 1994, the

ministries held by Meretz included, says in his conclusion:

"Rabin can be predicted to continue to refuse to keep the

settlements dry of funds. And the Americans will continue to

understand him". All subsequent news bear this conclusion out.

However, the settlers in the Territories should not be regarded

as one homogenous bloc. As assumed by Fidel, the mainly secular

settlers of the towns and other localities close to the Israeli

borders work mainly in Israel. Among those of the Golan Heights,

Jordan valley and other places, the proportion of farmers (though

heavily dependent on hired labor, often of Thais imported for the

purpose), is high. It is only the bulk of the religious settlers

who are employed mainly in fictitious ocupations, and

consequently have plenty of time and opportunity to demonstrate

against the government and to make pogroms against the

Palestinians. Though this subject will be discussed in another

report, let me point out that almost all settler attacks on the

Palestinians are carried out by the religious settlers. It is

easy to distinguish a religious from a secular settler by the

dinstictive head covering of the former. It can be assumed that

the religious settlers have by now created in the Territories a

new type of society. Discussion of this subject appears in my

article ("Haaretz", November 15) from which I will proceed to

quote extensively.


"Any analysis of 1988 and 1992 Knesset elections can show that

there exist two quite different kinds of settlers. In settlement

towns such as Ariel or Karney Shomron the electoral returns

showed a rather even distribution of votes for the larger

[Israeli] parties, even if somewhat skewed in favor of the

right-wing ones as compared to the national averages. In Kiryat

Arba by contrast, Labor and Likud which jointly hold no less than

76 [out of 120] Knesset seats, did not even obtain 5% of vote. In

other Jewish religious settlements in the Territories hardly any

votes fell upon any of the four largest [Israeli] parties (Labor,

Likud, Meretz and Tzomet), which in the 1992 elections jointly

received about 80% of the vote and 96 Knesset seats. Instead, the

religious settlements voted for the religious or Haredi parties

(i.e. National Religious Party, Agudat Israel and Shass), and to

some extent for the transfer-mongering Moledet party which also

is partly religious. The Haredi parties were voted for not only

in the exclusively Haredi towns settlement in the Territories

like Immanuel or Beitar, but also in other religious settlements.

Such distribution of electoral returns means that a new society

has emerged in the Territiries: a society qualitatively different

from the Israeli Jewish one, and saturated by religious



This new society is governed like other societes of religious

fanatics. "All organizations of religious fanatics, whether in

Judaism, Islam or Christianity, are committed to the principle of

unconditional supremacy of the religious authority over its

secular servants, regardless of whether the latter are

politicians or PR executives on the religious authority's

payroll... The religious settlers recognize as their

unconditional authority their rabbis, assembled in the `The

Committee of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District'. In

order to know what the real intentions of the religious settlers

are, we need nothing more than to read what those rabbis said

about a year ago, when felt strong and confident about their

power to determine Israeli politics.


"On October 14, 1992, Nadav Shraggay reported in `Haaretz' on

`a symposium on the subject of the proper Jewish attitudes toward

resident aliens in the Holy Land'. The symposium was held under

the joint auspices of the [Israeli] ministry of Religions, the

department for Talmudic education in the ministry of Education

and `Ateret Cohanim' Yeshiva". The latter teaches the laws

pertaining to the Temple, (which its rabbis expect to be soon

rebuilt) and the rules of animal sacrifices to be performed

there. In addition to training the priests for the pertinent

duties, it purchases (by means fair or foul) non-Jewish property

in Jerusalem in order to hand it over to the Jews. "Among the

speakers at that symposium was Rabbi Zalman Melamed, the chairman

of The Committee of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza

District. According to rabbi Melamed `there can be no dispute

that it would be ideal if the entire Land of Israel be settled

exclusively by the Jews. Every clod and every dunam of its land

is destined to be worked on by the Jews alone'.


"On October 11, 1992, Nadav Shraggay reported in `Haaretz'

about `the Appeal No. 3' of `The Committee of Rabbis of Judea,

Samaria and the Gaza District'. The appeal read: `It has already

been ruled by Our Rabbi, Tzvi Yehuda Kook of blessed memory, that

any decision, Jewish or non-Jewish, to rob us of any part of our

land can have no validity, because the Will of God will prevail'.

The rabbis of the Committee refer to the Palestinians as `animals

in human shape', and define all hopes of ever establishing `the

relations of trust or peace' with them as `a delusion inspired by

Satan'. If even Ariel Sharon keeps claiming that he believes in

peace with the Palestinians and in granting them an autonomy (on

his terms, to be sure), the quoted statement can only mean that

its authors perceive an overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews as

deluded by Satan. Consequently, the principles of `The Committee

of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza District' can be shared

only by those who recognize the absolute power of the rabbis over

all other Jews".


The aims of "The Committee of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria and the

Gaza District" and of their followers are larger, both

ideologically and territorially, than prevention of an autonomy

in any shape or form in the Territories now occupied by Israel,

since they define "Land of Israel" as constituting a much wider

area. "The rabbis of `The Committee of Rabbis of Judea, Samaria

and the Gaza District' assume that the truth in both religion and

politics has already been revealed in its entirety to the their

two rabbinical leaders, Avraham Yitzhak Kook and his son Yehuda

Tzvi Kook [died in 1983]. That `truth' implies, however, that the

entire Sinai peninsula is a part of the `Land of Israel', or, as

they suddenly discovered in the summer of 1982, that Beirut,

under its `true' name of `Be'erot', (a name appearing in the Book

of Joshua), also `belongs to the Jews'. At least a half of

Lebanon's territory alao `belongs to the Jews' according to that

`truth', as an `inheritance of the two [Israelite] tribes,

Zevulon and Naftali'. Hence, `the Committee of Rabbis of Judea,

Samaria and the Gaza District' cannot possibly give its approval

to the peace with Egypt or to the [Israeli] withdrawal from a

major part of Lebanon". This was the reason why "when Sadat was

assassinated the religious settlers rejoiced. They danced and

sang, hoping for a new war to instantly follow that

assassination, and for Israeli reconquest of the entire Sinai as

an outcome of that war".


In order to carry out these aims Gush Emunim desires to exert

predominant influence upon the political aims of Israel. "The

real intentions of the religious settlers, as documented by

utterances of their spiritual leaders are to determine the

policies of the State of Israel in the spirit of the `Redemption

Process' which they claim to know in advance. In contrast to

them, the secular settlers are not notably different in their

attitudes from the secular majority of Israeli Jews. In the past,

they had been influenced by monetary incentives, or by belief in

doing `a pioneering' in the Territories. Yet neither has changed

anything much in them. My conclusion is that an accomodation with

the secular settlers is possible, but with the religious settlers

absolutely impossible. Any search to accomodate the latter is not

only doomed to failure, but also bound to encourage them even

more in the pursuit of `complete Redemption'".


It is to be deplorable that the ideology of the religious

settlers is very seldom analyzed or even accurately described, by

the Palestinians, in Israel and in the Western media alike. The

silence of the latter may be explained easily by their reluctance

to offend their Jewish readers (or Jewish lobbies) through a

publication of anything which may be construed by any stretch of

imagination as an "irreverent attitude toward Jewish religion".

In contrast with trivia or disinformation, there is no way of

conveying any substantial information about the religious

settlers which would not imply a considerable amount of criticism

of the Jewish religion. Palestinian attitudes can be explained,

though not condoned, by their unwillingness to know anything much

about Israeli Jewish society. By asking any Palestinian "how a

settler looks?" it can be easily found out that in colloquial

Arab speech in the Territories, the word "settler" tout court

really means a religious settler. but this popular semantics

cannot excuse the Palestinian media from not even trying to

distinguish between the two types of settlers and their different

aims, for the sake of information or political tactics. And

insofar as I know, no media in the entire Arab world are in this

respect any different.


The silence of the Hebrew media and of the Israeli Jewish

society in general has complex reasons. On the one hand, there

still exist a lot of sympathy and support for the religious

settlers, even if dwindling as compared to the period of the

"national unity government" of 1984-90. This sympathy,

contrasting glaringly with the hostility towards the Haredim, can

be attributed to several concurrent reasons. In the first place,

the religious settlers serve zealoslly in the army, which remains

a symbolic bond uniting the Israeli Jewish society. They also

share many customs of the secular society: e.g. they wear the

same clothing and sing much the same songs, even if old

fashioned. In the second place, the settling, especially when

referred to as "pioneering", remains admired by many Israeli

Jews educated to worship "the Jewish pioneers" of bygone times.

This is operating especially among the Zionist "left". A leader

of Mapam, now a part of Meretz, Ya'akov Hazan, in mid-1970s and

1980s went out of his way to extol Gush Emunim for being true

"pioneers". Some influential writers affiliated with Labor

continue to do so even today.


On the other hand, about one half of Israeli Jews who, as

mentioned in Report 125, remain faithful to the ideals of "Jewish

exclusivity" and Jewish exclusive right to the "Land of Israel",

though they may interpret the latter ideal quite differently than

the religious settlers, as best proven by Likud's readiness to

withdraw from all of Sinai, still cannot but admire the religious

settlers for upholding its ideals in the Territories with such

resolve. This applies particularly to the West Bank to which

Likud and the religious share a deep attachment stemming from

their common worship of Jewish past, especially the Biblical

past. The support of religious parties for the religious settlers

is assured due to the shared adherence of religious commandments

and ideals. In this the Haredi parties are no exception, because

their rabbis believe that Jews have the sole right to the "Land

of Israel" even if they differ from Gush Emunim on specific

conditions under which this right should be claimed.


Labor's support for Gush Emunim is more covert. It stems from

the fact that nobody in the Israeli Jewish society can better

serve Labor's real policies (as explained in the opening part of

this report) of preserving Israeli rule in the Territories than

the religious settlers. Nothing can better serve to perpetuate

Israeli domination of the Territories than deploymant of the army

troops in settlements and highways linking them; nothing may

"look nicer" abroad, which is a factor which Labor, unlike Likud,

always takes into account. A domination resting on the naked and

undisguised power of the army would, by comparison, be a much

more inferior solution. This is why Likud, Labor and other

secular parties are reluctant to discuss the deep ideological

differences dividiing them from the religious settlers. And of

course, the Haredim dislike the discussion of such issues even

more than the seculars.


For those reasons, the political power of the religious settlers

should be regarded as much greater than their numbers, even if

their Israeli supporters are included. Their financial dependence

on the government hardly detracts from their power. I anticipate

their influence on the actual Israeli policies as remaining high

under Rabin government, even if its limits remain to be seen. Let

me give an example. As mentioned in Report 127, the single

freedom which the Palestinians of the Territories won as a result

of the Israel-PLO Agreement was the right to display their flag

and other national emblems. Yet on November 12, Hillel Cohen

could already report ("Kol Ha'ir") that "in the entire city of

Hebron one cannot see a single Palestinian flag on display". Why?

Because the religious settlers of Kiryat Arba and Hebron itself,

at once assault any house or even a whole neighborhood where this

flag can be seen, smash the windows and other property, beat the

people indiscriminately, often right in front of the Israeli army

soldiers. My own informants tell me that the same happens in many

villages near Hebron and other locations where religious settlers

are strong, but not in vicinity of secular settlements. No wonder

the Palestinians are infuriated by this, against Arafat and the

PLO no less than against the Israeli government. Their wrath

would be even more intense if their media did not do their best

to conceal such facts, in contrast to bodily injuries caused by

the religious settlers which are reported. Still, such a press

coverage cannot last long, simply because what too many people

know cannot be hushed up indefinitely.


For several weeks already the Hebrew press speaks of Rabin's

desire to preserve Arafat's influence over the Palestinians.

Arafat himself is being referred to, with some exaggeration, as

"a new and the most important ally of Israel". Yet it cannot be

doubted that the religious settlers have succeeded in reversing

Rabin's intentions in this respect. How far they will be able to

go to exact the Israeli government's surrender to their aims

remains an open question.