In all of the talk surrounding possible peace deals between Israelis and Palestinians — the Saudi plan, the Mitchell proposal, the Tenant Plan — the stickiest question of all is never addressed: what to do about the Israeli settlements in the lands that the Palestinians want returned to them.
Over 200,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the "occupied" territories of the West Bank and Gaza, which were taken by Israel during the 1967 war.
For some Israelis, the settlements are the best way to ensure that the lands claimed in the 1967 war remain Jewish forever. But to the Palestinians, the settlements are major irritants — visible reminders that foreigners have control of the land they view as their own.
Any "land for peace" deal between the Israelis and the Palestinians will require the question of the Israeli settlements to be answered. Many Israelis are not interested in giving up the settlements; many Arabs see a complete withdrawal of Israeli settlers as a necessary component of a peace deal.
This hour, how the Israeli settlements in the West Bank are complicating any efforts to bring peace to the Middle East.
Ambassador Philip Wilcox, former U.S. Counsel General in Jerusalem, President of The Foundation for Middle East Peace
Charlie Bernhaut, spokesman for Americans For A Safe Israel
This program aired on April 29, 2002.