A senior Israeli army commander has warned that unchecked "Jewish terror" against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank threatens to plunge the territory into another conflict.
In unusually outspoken comments, Major General Avi Mizrahi took aim at extremist Israeli settlers, and said the yeshiva, or religious seminary, in Yitzhar, one of the most radical Jewish strongholds in the West Bank, should be closed, calling it a source of terror against Palestinians.
The general's comments are likely to put him at odds with Israel's pro-settler government, which has resisted US-led efforts to curb settlement expansion in a bid to revive stalled peace talks. The foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, himself lives in a West Bank settlement. All settlements are regarded as illegal under international law.
"What's happening in the field is terrorism," General Mizrahi told Israel’s Channel 2's Meet the Press, and it "needs to be dealt with." The Israeli army, he said, fears "terrorism against Palestinians is likely to ignite the territories". Palestinians and Israeli NGOs frequently accuse the army of siding with settlers in conflagrations with Palestinians, prompting the army to respond that it is obliged to protect its citizens and does not set policy.
Human rights groups suggest that the more radical settlers, many of whom oppose a two-state solution on the premise that the whole of Israel is bequeathed to them by God, are agitating against Palestinian moves to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations in September.
The Israeli commander General Mizrahi blamed the courts for failing to rein in the most radical of the settlers – a small proportion of the roughly 500,000 Israeli settlers who are living beyond the Green Line (Israel’s internationally recognized border) in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Adapted from "Jewish settlers are terrorising Palestinians, says Israeli general", written by Catrina Stewart and published by The Independent on July 18, 2011. See text on line at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/jewish-settlers-are-...
Distributed by PAJU (Palestinian and Jewish Unity)