One of the axioms of the “peace process” is that the settlements are “an obstacle to peace,” as if removing them would instantly bring peace on earth.
It’s well known, however, that before 1967 there were no settlements, and no peace - unless, of course, you consider the communities within Israel “settlements,” since the Arabs considered them occupied territory.
The greatest contribution of the settlements, then, is that they took the place of Israeli towns as occupied territory, except perhaps for Hamas and considerable parts of the Arab world.
Therefore, the formula that removing settlements equals peace is laughable and baseless.
The Arabs’ total-denial approach to Israel never depended on settlement on a particular parcel of land. They are bothered by Jewish settlement in Israel in general. It’s enough to browse through the books of the “moderate” Palestinian Authority to see that Haifa, Jaffa and even Tel Aviv are considered Palestinian cities, while Hamas believes the Wakf land of all Palestine should be expropriated from the Jewish state, which doesn’t have the right to land on either side of the Green Line.
In 2000, Yasser Arafat was offered an Israeli withdrawal from 95% of the territories in exchange for agreeing to end the conflict. He refused, because he didn’t consider this a full withdrawal from Palestinian land.
Although Israel made yet another step in leaving the Gaza Strip, not only freezing construction there but evicting the settlers, all it got in return was more war and destruction, a far cry from the peace that removing this “obstacle” was supposed to create.
In other words, not only did the Arabs not consider Israel’s older settlements different from the new ones that “endanger peace,” but the eviction of the latter drove them to begin attacking the former.
We know now that one thing that motivated Anwar Sadat to come to Jerusalem was his fear that unless settlements in the Rafah area and Sinai were uprooted, they would grow into large cities that no peace agreement could remove.