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Settlements issues linger on between Palestinians and Israelis

08-17-2011 13:58 BJT

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Settlement building is an issue that continues to arise between the Palestinians and Israelis. Talks brokers say it could make or break a deal. But understanding the settlement issue can be thorny. Our correspondent Stephanie Freid explains.

Settlement is the No. 1 issue talked about in the Palestinian Israel conflict. Some say it's what's keeping the sides from striking a peace deal.

To better comprehend the issue, it's important to know a little history.

In a 1967 war, Israel captured Jordanian land with Palestinian living on it. It's now called the West Bank

In the 44 ensuring years Israel has built Jewish settlements on that land, a move challenged vigorously by the international community, the UN, the EU and the U.S.

Bethlehem's Dr. Mazen Qumsiyeh refers to settlement building as land grabbing that has reached a point of no return.

Dr. Mazen Qumsiyeh said, "Israel has transported 450,000 Jewish settlers to the West Bank and these are the people who control most of the natural resources in the West Bank, most of the water and economy and rich agricultural lands in the West Bank

To understand this complicated issue is to look around. On the hilltops behind me and surrounding me a on all sides are settlements. Those settlements spread all around Palestinian cities and Dr. Qumsiyeh says that's the idea. To build settlements on the hilltops and eventually trickle down into the Palestinian areas.

The Bethlehem author knows the scenario firsthand. Israeli zoning laws cost his relatives their agricultural land. It's now surrounded by security barriers.

A ten minute drive south and we are in the Jewish settlement Efrat, population 9000.

They have a modern homes, a pizza parlor and a hamburger joint.

Things they could have in other cities. But they've living in this disputed area because.

Bob Lang, head of Efrat Settlement Religious Council, said, "More than 3000 years ago King David made Jerusalem the capital of the Jewish people. This is the home of the Jewish people. This is the very history of the Jewish people and it's where the future of the Jewish people will be. Right here on this very land."

In talking to the parties on either side of this very important issue it becomes very clear how they differ radically on their views of this the issues. The one point where the two men I spoke with converge, however, is that both advocate a one state solution. Their visions of how that one state solution looks, though, also differs radically.

Dr. Qumsiyeh envisions a secular, democratic state with Israelis and Arabs living side by side.

Bob Lang said, "A one state solution that is Jewish, run by the Israeli government with both sides living together."

With wide gaps in vision and on-the-ground reality of settlement expansion, it' is hard to imagine the sides reaching a peace agreement. But as they have for decades, the parties continue looking for common ground.


Editor:Liu Fang |Source: CNTV.CN

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