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31 Aug, 2011 06:37

‘UN can go home’ – Israeli settlers

Come September, Israel will be hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. The military is training - and also reportedly arming - West Bank settlers as they expect violence when the UN votes on recognizing Palestinian statehood next month.

But whatever happens at that critical UN meeting, more than half a million Israeli settlers could not care less.“There have been so many decisions declared in the UN that have absolutely no meaning and are baseless. UN = Unwanted Nobodies. Go home!” says Nadya Matar, the founder of Women for Israel’s Tomorrow.But Palestinians say they will be the ones going home now, and like it or not, Nadya and other Israeli settlers will soon find themselves citizens of Palestine.“Once the UN recognizes Palestine within these borders, there is no question – this is occupation, international law applies,” political activist Jeff Halper explains.For months now, the Israeli army has been fine-tuning its response to the UN vote.“They bought a lot of equipment to handle demonstrations, like tear gas grenades and stun grenades, etc,” Israeli journalist Chaim Levinson explains. “They are also training a lot of reserve soldiers. They invested around US $20 million in these preparations.”The army is also training settlers in self-defense.The working assumption of the Israeli defense establishment is that come September there will be confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians. There will be marches, protests and in some cases even violence.But it is an assumption – and many would say over-reaction – that threatens to inflame the situation on the ground.“Israel has been doing everything it can to de-legitimize this whole idea of the vote,” says Arik Ascherman, director of the Rabbis for Human Rights project.And it is not only the Palestinians it is short-changing.“This fear that Israel is spreading also among its own population is not justified, because at the end of the day what the Palestinians are doing is a political step and trying to achieve legitimacy through politics,” says Dr. Robby Nathanson, director of the Macro Centre for Political Economics. “I think this is far better than to try to achieve legitimacy through terror or wars.”And the irony is that the army might just be focusing its resources on the wrong population.  Nadya’s Matar’s defiant stance does nothing to dispel that concern:“You think that we are going to leave? On the contrary,” she declares.The biggest danger, though, is that as the Israeli defense forces prepare for a conflict, people on both sides of the border might begin to expect one.