Over the past week, heated discussions took place, at the highest levels of the government of Israel, as to whether Israeli “settlers” would be welcome to live in a Palestinian state.

Almost 18 years ago, Yasser Arafat, the chairman of the PLO and the first president of the Palestinian Authority, provided a clear answer to that question

On November 28, 1996, Thanksgiving eve in the US, I covered and recorded an unusual session of 10 Israelis from Judea who met with Yasser Arafat at a home in Bethlehem.

To summarize the purpose of the meeting in two words, one participant described it as “reality testing.”

This unofficial “settler delegation” asked Arafat very specific questions as to how Arafat defined the status of Israeli “settlers” in the Palestinian State that he envisioned.

Arafat went around the room, asking where each guest where he or she lived. He listened intently and wrote down the name of each Jewish community: Elazar, Migdal Oz, Kfar Etzion, Neve Daniel, Efrat, Rosh Tzurim, Tekoa, Kiryat Arba and Hebron.

After examining the list, Arafat looked around the room and said to the participant in the dialogue that “each of you can stay where you are. You did not take any Arab lands. You displaced no Arabs. But if you were from Ramle or Lod, then you would have to leave your settlement”. Arafat went on to expound upon his world view and how he differentiated between “Israeli settlements” and “illegal Israel settlements”.

According to Arafat, a “settlement” was where Israeli Jews chose to live, in an area that did not uproot any Arabs, and went on to say that this kind of settlement does not bother the Palestinians. However, Arafat went on to say, that “illegal settlements” are the ones built which replaced Arab villages – in other words, the Arab villages that were lost in 1948..

Arafat’s definition of.”illegal settlements” is now the theme of new Palestinian Authority education text books and the theme of new Palestinian media outlets.

Hence, the intense PA anger over Jewish neighborhoods that expand in Acre, Jaffa and Ramle, described in the PA media as “illegal” Israeli settlements..

Each of the ten Palestinian terror attacks against Netanya, were described in the PA media as an attack on an “illegal Israeli settlement”.

When a mother and her two small children were murdered by an Arab terrorist in Kibbutz Metzer, the PA characterized the victims as “illegal settlers”.

PA school books replace all Israeli city names with the names of Palestinian villages.

Daily activities in the PA schools, especially in the UNRWA facilities which serve the descendents of Arab refugees from 1948, focus on teaching grandchildren and great grandchildren of Arabs who fled their homes in the 1948 war that they must prepare to take back their homes, at all costs.

Invoking Arafat principles, the “settlers” welcome, in theory, in a Palestinian State would be those who live in Judea and Samaria and new neighborhoods of Jerusalem, because they did not uproot Arab villages.

At the same time, the PA openly declares that it will lead a war against Israeli “illegal settlements”- cities, villages, and collective farms which replaced Arab villages after the battles of 1948…Not where many people thought where “illegal settlements” are located.


  1. David- I thought the title of the article was a joke to the question which settlers could remain and I imagine abbas would respond as follows: only the dead ones.


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David Bedein
David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.