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Jewish Settlements The "settlement issue"  the existence of

The "settlement issue"  the existence of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, those parts of "historic Palestine" that came under Isreali control after the 1967 war  has in recent years become one of the most contentious issues facing wouldbe peacemakers in the Middle East. Many observers see the settlements as the principal obstacle lying in the way of some convenient territorial compromise that would create a Palestinian state or "entity." They have become the emotional center of antiIsraeli rhetoric on the part of Arabs and their sympathizers. The United States has, at various times, damned the settlements as illegal, or at least as "an obstacle to peace." The government of Israel, on the other hand, claims a right to establish such settlements not only for reasons of shortterm security, but on the grounds of a historic right of Jews to live in any part of Eretz Yisrael, the biblical and historic Land of Israel.

The following pages are devoted to a discussion of this last, deeply emotional argument. What historic right, if any, do Jews have to live in any or all parts of Palestine? We will suggest, contrary to what seems to be a widely held view in the West, that Jews have lived continually in all parts of Palestine, or Eretz Yisrael, from very ancient times  that they are there as continual occupants or returnees, not in any sense as colonizers.

This is in contrast to a view which this writer has never found plainly expressed in writing, but which I believe to be implicitly widely accepted, even by many who regard themselves as friends of Israel. This view holds that modern Israel has no real continuity or link, save that of religious tradition, which its ancient, Biblical namesake. The ancient Jewish society of Israel was eradicated in Roman times, in this view, and the subsequent resettlers were ancestors of the Arab Palestinians, who have now lived there continually for nearly t...

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