Cross-posted from Mondoweiss.
I can just see Bibi saying to a Cabinet minister: “Housing crisis? I have just the thing!”
Absolutely brilliant (no, really, it is — well, kind of, at least in that self-defeating way we’ve come to know and love from Bibi and friends).
The sooner you get the settler protesters out of their tents (the cry of “To your tents, O Israel!” has never boded well for Jewish rulers) and back to the Occupied Territories, the less chance there is that they will turn on you in elections and — Herzel forbid — vote for Labour or something crazy like that. Class solidarity is a terrifying thing for a government built on a different kind of solidarity altogether.
Although it would be a really ungrateful thing for said settlers to do that when right and center-right dominated governments have spent twice as much on the average settler in the Occupied Territories as they do on the average Israeli citizen living in, say, Tel Aviv, Ashkelon, Haifa or Acre.
Building new settlements to resolve the housing crisis brings to mind the image of an Ouroboros, aka, the serpent that eats its own tail (one worth US$17 billion, to be precise). And, truthfully, it’s just more of the same. It’s not a new tactic, but it’s a tried and true method for garnering support (and “facts on the ground” for legitimizing the settlements, which are illegal under international law).
As two +972 Magazine bloggers writing in the NYT note, the roots of this housing crisis lie in decisions made during the 1990s (you know, back when Israeli governments said they were seriously considering giving the Palestinians their own “state”) to increase government subsidies for settlement housing over public housing projects within Israel’s pre-1967 borders. This encouraged Israelis — ardent Zionists and otherwise — to move to East Jerusalem and other destinations in the Occupied Territories (so that de facto annexation would precede — and justify — eventual de jure annexation).
I don’t praise Bibi’s genius enough, I really don’t. One, it makes more housing available (though only a certain number of demonstrators would probably want to live in them) and two, it makes East Jerusalem even more “fundamentally” part of Israel. What more could the Israeli right ask for?
(Well, a lot, but you get the idea.)