The "price-tag policy," a vow by hard-line Israeli settlers to inflict a "price" every time one West Bank outpost is dismantled, seems to be effective against both the West Bank Palestinians and the Israeli government. Never mind that the settlements are illegal, never mind that even if they were legal, the settlements have far outpaced population increase and natural settlement.
It’s a win-win for the settlers. They get their revenge looked after while preparing to appropriate more Palestinian land, and, they make Netanyahu’s government think twice about taking down more outposts. And in this little twist, the Israeli government can convince itself of its benevolence towards Palestinian farmers by easing up on any further dismantling.
(Left: June, 2009 AFP photo of illegal setters burning Palestinian fields.)
Yesterday the "price-tag" came in the form of 30 or so Israeli settlers on horseback, taking to Palestinian olive grooves with torches and burning down an estimated 1500 trees and injuring a few Palestinian’s in the process.
Farmers themselves, the settlers know the cost of their actions. Olive trees take a decade or more to establish themselves and produce fruit. Destroying Palestinian farmer’s olive trees is like cutting off the hands of a cabinet maker and leaving him to ponder his fate—his state.
But for the settlers, any discomfort with conscience is quickly rationalized by a perceived 2000-plus year old entitlement to the West Bank. Religious Zionists have been at the forefront of the settlement movement and they see their presence there as fulfilling a biblical mandate preparing and quickening the coming of the Messiah. They believe it’s their self-appointed role to resettle the Land of Israel, ushering in a theocratic Jewish state, where in ancient times, Jewish kingdoms existed. So it is that many Zionist settlements are founded around biblical sites, supposedly justifying their presence and giving them a sense of connection with their biblical roots.
So Palestinian roots, and Palestinian rights can be torn up, and quite literally, burned. And in the meantime the settlements continue under Binyamin Netanyahu’s watch despite an Israeli freeze, and despite pressure from Obama and Brown.