The settlers marinate

The Financial Times provides a necessary cold shower to those who think President Barack Obama’s talk about Middle East peace is realistic in the short-term:

The Palestinians, in any case, have little hope of winning a reprieve from the settlements in the near future. The farming village of Jeet in the northern West Bank, for example, is flanked by the settlement of Keddumim and an outpost called Havat Gilad on three sides. Zakaria Sedda, a local activist, says the outpost is built on private Palestinian land from Jeet and four other villages – a claim denied by the settlers. What is more, Havat Gilad has become a “factory for attacks” on the villagers.

“They steal our olives, they cut down the olive trees and they beat and attack the farmers in the area,” says Mr Sedda.

Keddumim, a leafy West Bank settlement of 5,000 inhabitants with big houses and well-tended gardens, is a world away from the -rubble of Maoz Esther. Yet the sentiments expressed by Daniella Weiss, a leader of the radical settlement movement and a grandmother of 14 children, are much the same.

She is deeply disappointed with Mr Netanyahu, whose rightwing government, she says, has betrayed the hopes the settler movement placed in it. What if he moves decisively against the settlers? “It will be blocked. And I want to tell you, I think Netanyahu might fall. He will not be able to finish the job.”

For the time being, however, there seems little chance of a head-on clash between the settlers and Mr Netanyahu. The demands of the US and the Palestinians are not aimed at dismantling existing settlements such as Keddumim but only at removing outposts and freezing settlement growth. Mr Obama might be about to find out that, even on those two issues, progress may be hard to come by.

A new study finds that the Israeli public are increasingly opposed to the settler movement. Good for them. So what are they doing about it?

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