Israel retroactively issued 179 building permits on Wednesday, legalizing under local law Israeli settlements that were illegally erected in Palestine according to international law. In addition, a planning committee of Israel’s military-run Civil Administration in the West Bank approved the erection of 284 new housing units in the occupied West Bank.

  • The United States publicly displayed a change in tone with the claim that “these policies have effectively given the Israeli government a green light for the pervasive advancement of settlement activity in a new and potentially unlimited way.”
  • Israeli Settlements fragment Palestinian land, strengthening the eventual case for annexation of the West Bank into Israel – destroying the possibility to resolve the conflict with two independent nations.
  • The two-state solution is best for long-term peace within the region, but also with the greater Middle East, because countries like Saudi Arabia and Iran see Israel’s occupation as unjust and possibly Western usurpation of Palestinian land. A single-state solution would create domestic strife within Israel and as with Western colonialism in the Middle East.
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hambdallah called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop settlement activity. Previously, pressure from the international community has not proved to be effective.

Israeli Settlements

This move comes one month after a report issued by the Middle East peace “Quartet” – the US, UN, EU, and Russia – called on Israel to halt “the policy of settlement construction and expansion.” The report, and by extension its writers, believe that this was a major barrier to peace negotiations because of its inherent ability to draw international condemnation and radical attacks from occupied Palestine.

The US State Department said since the report’s release there has been a “significant” increase in illegal settlement activity, with over 700 retroactive approvals and plans for over 2,500 new illegal units in the West Bank. Unconfirmed claims that Israel plans to expand the Israeli settlement in Hebron, the West Bank’s largest city, for the first time in more than 10 years have begun to travel throughout the region.

Israel’s new defense minister Avigdor Liberman has announced new segregation plans for towns in villages in the West Bank. Towns and villages will be further separated into “red” and “green” zones. Red for those with alleged links to terrorism and green for those who have abstained from terrorism. Red zones will operate under heavy military occupation and nightly Israeli Special Forces raids. Green zones will enjoy supposed economic benefits and “goodwill gestures.”

According to local reporters, Israeli military activity in the West Bank has been increased significantly. Locals claim that Israeli Special Forces conduct almost nightly operations in refugee camps and in villages and towns whose residents have allegedly attacked Israeli targets. Locals say that one of the more frequent targets of these night operations is the Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem, the birthplace of Jesus, as well as Hebron districts.

The Other Side

Palestinian aggression against Israel is often carried out by disaffected youths who radicalize and commit acts of terror in Israeli settlements. Palestinian militants have also launched thousands of rockets on Israel from the Gaza Strip, which have killed and injured civilian innocents in the past.

Recently, Hamas launched a makeshift rocket from Gaza into the Israeli town of Sderot. No injuries were reported this time. Israel retaliated with a wave of 50 airstrikes, and several Palestinians were reported to be severely injured, including a 17-year-old boy.

With occupied territories and counter-productive behavior from both governments, the people of both nations continue to hold hope for a two-state solution. A recent poll found that 51% of Palestinians and 58% of Israelis support a two-state solution to the conflict.

GLOBALO has proposed a detailed “hawk and dove” peace strategy for Israel and Palestine.