600 soldiers, inhabited Hebron, acity of.170,00o Palestinians.Although the Gushrepresents aparticularly combative strain withinthesettler movement, however, it still representsonly a strain. Not allsettlers have been motivated by religious orpolitical ideologies. Many_
THE ARAB-ISRAELI CONFLICTof the settlements built closestto Israel consist ofIsraelislooking forcheaphousingor an affordable "good placetoraisekids."(Asof2012,TelAvivranked thirty-first onthelistof the most expensivecities in theworldtolive,six slots down fromLondon but aboveNewYork.) Thesesettlements are mixed in with others inhabited by "ultra-Orthodox"Jews who are unmoved by thecultlike messianism ofthe Gush butwho wanttolive their livesinanaffordahle environment surroundedby other ultra-Orthodox Jews and ultra-Orthodox institutions. TheIsraeligovernment has encouraged the expansion ofthesesettlementsby offering settlers a wide array of incentives, including tax breaks,grants, andlow-interest loans.Writingin2001,IsraeliacademicAvishaiMargalit explained the systemofincentives asfollows:Ifasettler buys an apartment for$100,000,hewillreceive from thegovernment a standingloan of$20,000,which in practice comes closetoturning into a grant after five years. Moreover,he also gets$12,000as a flat grant; and he pays such low intereston his mortgage (2.5 per-cent compared to 5.5 percent in Israel proper)that he saves$40,000inmortgage paymentsover twenty years....Nor do government subsidiesstopwithmoney for housing. Living in a settlementlike Ma'ale Adumin(ten minutes from the Mount Scopus campusof the Hebrew UniversityofJerusalem)means, among manyother benefits, that incometaxes arereducedby10percent, health taxesby30percent, and kindergartenfees by50percent.sBesidesthe fact that the Israeli government acquires the land forsettlementsthrough expulsions and selective enforcement of the 1858Ottoman Land Code (particularly theprovision rhatallowsthe statetotake overland if its owner cannotprove title or leavesitbarren for agiven lengthof time), it isthisverypolicy of providing incentives forsettlementsthat supplies their opponents in the international commu-nitywithammunition against them.Opponents oftheIsraelisettlementpolicyarguethat the settlementsviolate the Fourrh GenevaConventionof1949.Accordingtotheconvention, "The occupying power shall notdeport ortransfer parts ofitsowncivilian popularion intothe territoryit occupies.IIBy giving tax incentives and other forms of encourage-ment to settlers, it is argued, the Israeli governmentis encouragingSAvishaiMargalit,"Settling Scores,nNewYorkReview ofBooks,20September200I.'93
THE ISRAEL-PALESTINE CONFLICTsuch a transfer ofpopulation. Needless to say,the United Nations has,condemnedIsraeli settlement activity countless times.
- Fall '08
- The American