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Israeli settlers: Patriots or invaders?

Dani Dayan discusses whether settlements are a natural extension of the Israeli state or an obstacle to peace.

Last updated: 07 Jul 2013 13:24
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Head to Head  is Al Jazeera's new forum of ideas - a gladiatorial contest tackling big issues such as faith, the economic crisis, democracy and intervention in front of an opinionated audience at the Oxford Union.

A UN report says Israeli settlements violate human rights and could be prosecuted as war crimes, but many Israeli settlers consider themselves patriots. So what hope is there for peace in the Middle East?

In a country where settlers are now one of the biggest and strongest political movements, Dani Dayan, a Netanyahu advisor and the outgoing chairman of the Yesha (Settlers) Council, says there is no two-state solution to the conflict and that he is happy with the status quo.

Dayan has been a major in the Israeli army, a successful IT entrepreneur, and a University lecturer. In 1999 he became an executive committee member of the Yesha Council, which represents the settler movement, and in 2007, its chairman until February 2013. He completely revitalised the movement until his resignation to campaign openly for Binyamin Netanyahu.

Mehdi Hasan goes head to head with Dayan at the Oxford Union, discussing whether Zionism is a colonialist project, whether the so-called apartheid roads are just an urban legend - and more importantly, what is the solution to this protracted conflict?

Dayan claims settlements are irreversible but preaches in favour of dismantling the wall. With a lively audience and robust debate from the expert panel, Head to Head is tackling the hard issues surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Are the settlements a natural extension of the Israeli state or the single biggest obstacle to peace in the Middle East? Will the Palestinians ever be able to build an independent and viable state?

Joining our discussion are: Dr Ghada Karmi, an academic and the author of The Palestinian Exodus (1999), In Search for Fatima (2002), and Israel’s Dilemma in Palestine (2007); Sam Westrop, a former director of the British Israel Coalition, and a fellow of the New York-based Gatestone Institute; and Hannah Weisfeld, the director of Yachad, a pro-peace, pro-Israel NGO based in London.


 

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Al Jazeera
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