Thursday, October 28, 2021

Biden and Settlements

The State Department escalates its rhetoric against settlements (UWI)
As predicted right here, the Biden administration has resumed the pre Trump narrative  that settlements in the West Bank and in the ‘Old City’ (East Jerusalem) are the primary impediment to peace. I must admit that it was a pleasant relief to not have to hear those words over the four years of the Trump administration.

This is not to say that I think settlements are not an issue at all.  They are. But at the same time I do not believe they are the primary reason that Israel and Palestinians do not make peace. As I have said many times, the primary impediment to peace is guaranteeing the safety of Israeli citizens.  As long as terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah control things in that area, there can be no peace. As long as there is an Iran that funds these terrorist groups, there can be no peace. When terrorist organizations and nations exist that have sworn to wipe Israel off the map, there can be no peace. As significant as settlements may be, they ought not be at the top of the list.

And yet there has been little if any mention by the Biden administration about Israel’s safety concerns as an an impediment. The current State Department is all about settlements. For Biden - as was the case with Obama - settlements are on the front burner. What about terrorist activities like  (among other things) the constant barrage of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza indiscriminately against innocent Israelis?  Not worthy of even a mention by the State Department. Let alone condemning it as they just did renewed settlement activity. (see video below)    

The truth is I am surprised that Prime Minister Bennett has decided on this massive and ambitious project. I realize that he has long been an advocate of doing this kind of thing. But his coalition is mostly left wing. Whose members tend to be opposed to settlement activity. In any case I would have preferred he did what Netanyahu did - allowing building in settlements for natural growth purposes. Expanding settlements deep in the West Bank is a bad idea. 

Propping up right wing settlements deep into the West Bank where there are long established Palestinian villages is an invitation to violence and death. Which have been perpetrated by both Palestinians terrorists against innocent Jews - as well as by right wing Jewish  extremists living there that retaliate with revenge attacks against innocent Palestinians.  

Back to the US. The idea of condemning settlement activity deep in the West Bank I understand. On the other hand equating that with expansion activity in long established Jewish towns that are technically just over the ‘green line’ is unfair - to say the least. As is condemning it in the ‘Old City’. Is there any question that Jews should be allowed to live in Jerusalem? Even on the outside chance that Jerusalem would be divided in a two state solution, there is no way the Jews should be barred from living there under any agreement. 

Decades of focusing on settlements never did a thing to advance the cause of peace in the past. Returning to that policy now will not change things. What is they say about people who repeat the same error each time and expect different results? 

As I said, I expected the Biden administration to do this. But I am nevertheless still disappointed by it. It was a nice break, though, to not have to hear the US use the word ‘settlements’ for 4 years.