Uri Avnery, former member of Israel’s Knesset (Parliament), is a founder of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc.

As an Israeli patriot I must say, without the shadow of a doubt, that at this moment the president of the United States understands the interests of Israel much better than Israel’s own prime minister and his ministers. In his memorable Cairo speech, as in his entire career so far, President Obama has opened up a horizon of real hope to the citizens of Israel as to the Palestinians and to all Arabs and Muslims — as he brought hope to the citizens of the U.S., who elected him. Conversely, Netanyahu’s ‘Yesterday’s Government’ offers no solution of any kind, and its policy consists of clinging blindly to continued occupation and settlement expansion.

Each year in the beginning of June, Israeli peace seekers demonstrate, in order to remind their fellow-citizens that our country is maintaining a cruel occupation rule over millions of Palestinian inhabitants, already for more than two-thirds of Israel’s total history. This year we are also demonstrating in the concrete hope that the end of the occupation is near, the beginning of peace between the state of Israel and the state of Palestine to arise, between Israel and the entire Arab world.

In the short term, the demand for ending settlement expansion, made so forcefully by President Obama, is a correct and justified demand. Not only because the president of the United States is demanding and pressuring, but mainly because that is the true and vital Israeli interest. Construction should be halted in all settlements without exception — not a house and not a hut, not in isolated settlements and not in settlements blocks, neither natural growth nor artificial growth.

What has no right to exist naturally has no right for natural growth, either. The settlements should never have been built in the first place, and should not continue to exist. Young settlers should be told that they cannot build homes in an occupied territory which would not remain under Israeli rule, and that they must find their future within the recognized borders of Israel — the Green Line borders. Soon, their parents would join them.

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