Expansion of Jewish Settlements’ Impact on Mid-East Peace Process

September 9, 2009

By Padmini Arhant

Israeli authorities’ determination to expand Jewish Settlements in Palestinian West Bank along the borders and on the private Palestinian land as well as the colonization of East Jerusalem is provocative. Besides, it is reflective of the Likud Party hard line policy to disregard the universally applicable International treaty on territorial issues and the will of the Israeli democracy for a viable two state solution necessary to end the half-a-century old conflict.

Despite call from President Obama to cease settlements and the international condemnation of the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, under the guise of ‘Israeli security,’ the Israeli coalition government continues with the settlements in a business as usual gesture thumbing their strongest ally, the United States and antagonizing the tolerant international community.

Israeli Palestinian issue has had numerous international interventions with the United States in the active and passive role depending on the administrations in the White House, other than the Oslo proposal to resolve the contentious burgeoning crisis that has consumed several thousand innocent Palestinian and Israeli lives under varied leaderships from both sides.

The world has been tirelessly urging the leaderships to halt the belligerent ‘settlement expansion’ on the Israeli part and the incendiary barrage against Israel by the divided Palestinian governments, but to no avail. It is obvious to the rest of the world that neither authority is seriously committed towards emancipating their population and restore the respective lands within the confines of the clearly demarcated boundaries free of turmoil.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a unique opportunity to demonstrate to the international community with whom Israel must co-exist as a democratic nation that his administration will prioritize peace over eternal battle with the neighbor Palestine. Now is the time for the Prime Minister to transform the pledge into action with a complete and not a partial freeze of Israeli settlements on the Palestinian land.

When the leadership is subject to test on the political front, the leader’s character revealed based on the decision whether or not to compromise national interest for personal survival in the aggressive political environment.

The interim minority might exalt the leadership acquiescing due to political pressure within. However, the long term world view on the missed occasion is noted in the reference to the authority as a ‘sheer politician’ and not a leader, a rare moment in life to deliver for humanitarian cause that ultimately matters in any sense.

All past wrongdoings inadvertently or otherwise easily reversed with one major accomplishment in the common goal for long lasting peace and security to benefit the Israeli and the Palestinian population.

The people on both sides deserve an atmosphere that is conducive for normal existence, only possible with the mutual recognition of similar rights comprising a settlement free and independent Palestine alongside Israel acknowledged as a sovereign state by all governing parties in Palestine.

Israeli leaderships’ credibility relies on the settlement abandonment in compliance of the International law and respect for the fellow human beings, the neighbor – the long-suffering Palestinian women, children and youth, who have waited over five decades for a place, they could call ‘home.’ It cannot happen sometime in the near future because the future is now and any further delay would be an affirmation of the Israeli occupation that would no longer fly under the security threat banner.

The forces behind such illegal occupation and invasion regardless of domicile share the consequences for an outrageous crime against humanity. Justifiably, the patience is wearing out even among the international allies and reliable intermediaries such as Jordan and Egypt in the Middle East.

It is incumbent on the Israeli government to contribute to peace and set precedence in the monumental challenge against global terrorism by voluntarily leaving the Palestinian land and granting the Palestinians their human right to freedom and life without the check posts and tunnels to move around their own state.

As for the Palestinian authorities – it is essential for Gaza and West Bank governments to display solidarity and work together in promoting peace between them and their neighbor Israel. Above all, the ruling factions, the FATAH and HAMAS should relinquish any plotting, verbal assaults and distortions against Israel, as it would unnecessarily jeopardize the peace and settlement evacuation deal.

Israeli settlers must unequivocally vacate the housing complexes built with the Israeli local and federal governments’ approval anywhere near or along the Palestinian private land. Any procrastination or evasion on the repatriation is unacceptable.

The consensus is if it was possible to allow the influx of settlers on foreign soil, the similar strategy should apply in receiving the exodus from the foreign land, as the authorities in Jerusalem should have realized that the rest of the world would no longer remain silent spectators to the oppression and persecution of the Palestinian population. It must end now to expedite the establishment of the two states with East Jerusalem rightfully allocated to Palestine as the state capital.

It is important to understand that in the Israeli settlers’ case, they are neither political nor economic refugees but unfortunately, they are the active and willful participants in the government sponsored housing program directly in violation of the international law.

No law-abiding citizens in any part of the world would agree to a stranger across the territory to encroach on their property line leave alone build an extension or a two story home of the residence they are currently residing in.

Failure to cooperate on the settlement issue will leave the settlers with ‘illegal’ status and deprive them of any citizen rights and legitimately regarded as the occupants with unauthorized entry. Therefore, forging identical immigration laws enforced in Western democracies against inappropriate or forced arrivals, often leading to deportations would be in accordance with the international migration law.

The peace accord should reflect that clause as a deterrence to prevent the status quo in the future.

Israeli settlements have attracted worldwide criticism across the spectrum of the many humanitarian groups including the Americans for Peace Now founded by the esteemed Professor Mark Rosenblum, History Professor and Director of the Jewish Studies Program, Queens College and within Israel – Shalom Achshav, the Israeli counterpart of the PeaceNow.org along with,

Columnist Ari Shavit wrote in Israeli daily Haaretz echoing similar sentiments –

“Figures provided by Peace Now show that 80 of the 100 outposts in the West Bank were built wholly or partly on private Palestinian land. Sixteen outposts are located entirely on private land, and more than half of the other outposts are on private land. This has to cause outrage.”

Ignoring international plea by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would exacerbate the thinning global support. Also, possibly accelerate the worldwide movement and resolve to free nations under foreign occupation, until the impending United Nations Security Council reconfiguration.

In conclusion, Israel and Palestine have lost a generation in the senseless violence and on-going dispute that could leave the economies without taxpayers to support the system – the baby boomers, soon to be the retirees for Israel and the desolate Palestinian youth population fallen victims to the political quagmire that has seen only despair and hopelessness as their future.

Not anymore, the people of Israel and Palestine must come together and urge their governments to disavow hatred and religious discord to enable the children and the younger generation, the torchbearers of a new peaceful legacy live in harmony alongside each other.

With the commencement of the ‘Holy Ramadan’ for the people of Islamic faith in Palestine and around the world, to be followed by the Jewish New Year for the fellow citizens of Jewish faith in Israel and elsewhere, the dawn of peace is on the horizon bringing joy and prosperity in abundance.

Ramaḍān Karīm رمضان كريم – Arabic for “Blessed Ramadan” and Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: ראש השנה‎, for the approaching “Jewish New Year.”

Thank you

Padmini Arhant


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