An unusual protest is scheduled for Thursday in the West Bank: settlers and Palestinians are planning to march together in protest against the security barrier Israel is building south of Jerusalem.
According to a report on Srugim, a national–religious news site, the protest was initiated by Eretz Shalom, a new pro-peace settlers’ movement. A flayer the settlers distributed (shown below), claims that the planned fence “will damage the nature in the area, hurt the residents of the [Palestinian] village Volga and their fields, won’t add to the security of Jerusalem, and will be a waste of state’s money.”
The settlers invite all residents of the area, “Jews, Christians and Arabs”, to meet at the border police checkpoint on 16.30 and march together in protest.
Is this more than a gimmick? It’s hard to tell. There has been some talk of peace initiatives coming from the far right recently. Naturally, they all lead to the one state solution, with most of the settlements staying where they are and the Palestinians becoming Israeli citizens. These ideas are yet to be developed, but I wouldn’t dismiss them altogether.
Many people on the left will find it hard to accept the idea of settlers talking about peace, but we should remember that not all the Jews living in the West Bank are like the radical and violent people of Yitzhar. Some of them are from second and third generation in the settlements, and they really struggle to find a solution that will enable them to live in peace. According to another report on Srugim, the people of Eretz Shalom don’t deal too much with politics, and view themselves as a grassroots, regional initiative. I think we should wish them luck.