It was with great sadness and frustration that I read, yet again, about Israel’s persistence in building settlements in occupied territories. The Dec. 1 article “Israel OK’s new West Bank settlement construction” stated that Israel did this as “an apparent warning to the Palestinians to rethink their UN plan.” This was a reference to the recent approval in the United Nations to upgrade Palestine to a nonmember observer state.
News analysts can debate whether Israel’s timing had anything to do with the Palestinians seeking this UN status. Israel’s practice of building settlements, in contravention of international law, is now more than four decades old and continues unabated. Legal niceties aside, one must question the strategic purpose of Israel’s commitment to continued settlement building.
Since the 1967 war, Israel has claimed that it is interested in peace, but continues to build more and more settlements in occupied territory. These settlement activities create only additional barriers to a negotiated peace.
The first step for Israel will be to stop settlement expansion, followed by the second step of settlement removal. Among many issues, status of all refugees and occupied lands will require painstaking negotiations and compromise. But until Israel ends the settlements, there will be no peace for Israel.