A Palestinian man walks on his property overlooking the Israeli settlement Har Homa in the Israeli-occupied West Bank; photograph from the Christian Science Monitor

Lob missiles in the direction of Tel Aviv, drop a bomb on a Hamas official, strap on a vest and blow up an Israeli bus, tear down Palestinian houses and build a wall, teach your children to hate the oppressor and get a symbolic upgrade in the UN: how can this seemingly intractable dilemma of “World of Warcraft: Land of Abraham” Israel vs. Palestine scenario ever get settled. One unilateral way is to settle it with yet more settlements. As The New York Times notes in today’s edition, the current Israeli government has their own kind of settlement in mind:

A day after the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the status of the Palestinians, a senior Israeli official said the government would pursue “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for a development that would separate the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem from Jerusalem. If such a project were to go beyond blueprints, it could prevent the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state.

The development, in an open, mostly empty area known as E1, would connect the large settlement town of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem. Israeli officials also authorized construction of 3,000 housing units in parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Obama administration, which backs virtually everything Israel does, is barking about how this is unhelpful, stopping short of the political bite that could be called condemnation. But some American diplomats see the danger in this mood: “This is not just another few houses in Jerusalem or another hilltop in the West Bank,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel and Egypt. “This is one of the most sensitive areas of territory, and I would hope the United States will lay down the law.”


That law has about as much chance of being laid down in the current political climate as the law west of Pecos in America’s own landgrab days. The “native” Americans, like the “native” Palestinians (call them what you like but in both cases there were people living in the area before others came in and took it away), lost the land they had been living on because of all kinds of “law” created by those taking over the land. We may have intellectual reservations about America’s treaty-ignoring rounding up of many of its natives (those that were not dead from imported disease or bullets) on bounded reservations, but legal remedies fade quickly when trying to atone for past wrongs.

The zoning plan for E1, euphemistically labeled a no-man’s land because only a few Bedouins camp there and of course they could never legally own such land, includes 3,910 housing units, 2,192 hotel rooms and an industrial park, all secured by a police station. It is the plan to build hotels that stands out most. Who exactly will be booking all these rooms in the E1 Marriott and E1 Sheraton? No doubt plenty of Teavangelicals will flock to take advantage of group discount rates for those lovers of Israel who just can’t wait until the Mosque of Omar is razed and Solomon’s temple is rebuilt and Jesus descends to stride in divine triumph through the East Gate. I suspect that Muslim pilgrims to the Dome of the Rock will find “no vacancy” signs at these luxury hotels.

But there is also to be an industrial park. Just think of the private sector possibilities. Priority could be given to a weapons manufacturer to save costs on transporting guns and bullets to battle zones. A printing factory could also rake it in; I am thinking of the demand for neon signs that read “Go back to Moab where you came from!”, “Kosher is civilized and halal is savage” (this one could also be set up in the New York subway system) or “We built the wall, now it’s your turn to wail.” I suspect that there will not be an official brothel, but all those Teavangelical would not be looking for them anyway since the Bible tells them the whores are in Babylon. It might also be good business in the future to develop a theme park or a casino. I am sure that Mr. Adelson can cough up the millions to start one and help fund the next Republican candidate from his haul. In the interest of peace there could be a park dedicated to the Palestinian people. A small space will do; all it would need is a few potsherds, a replica of the Dead Sea scrolls and nothing else. In the current Twilight Zone of Netanyahoo politics, that surely settles it.