Prime Minister Netanyahu would not be able to bring the entire settler movement on board for any kind of territorial deal that would be acceptable to Palestinians. But by breaking down the issue, he may be able to address the various constituencies within the 300,000 settler population in the West Bank, now 50 percent bigger than it was in 2000.
The question is whether Netanyahu could minimize the amount of political and financial support that hard-core settlers can draw.
First, more than two-thirds of them live in large settlements that are relatively close to the 1967 Green Line and likely to be kept by Israel in a land swap deal with the Palestinians. Second, of the remainder who reside in settlements that would become part of the Palestinian state, some live there primarily for affordable housing and would be willing to relocate inside Israel in exchange for attractive compensation.
But there would definitely remain a hard core of thousands — probably tens of thousands — of religiously or politically motivated settlers who would not cooperate with evacuation and who would mobilize their many allies inside the Israeli parliament, government, and in the United States to try to derail a deal.
The question is whether Netanyahu could satisfy the concerns of most Israelis (including on religious issues such as access to Jewish holy sites in Jerusalem, Hebron, and elsewhere in the West Bank, as well as territorial and security issues) through a deal with the Palestinians and thereby minimize the amount of political and financial support on which recalcitrant settlers could draw. But at present the Israelis and Palestinians are still far from a point in the negotiations at which Netanyahu would face this problem.