Israeli Settlement Activity and Prospects for a Two-State Solution
At a UN Security Council Open Debate on the Middle East in New York City, the United States of America addressed the issue of Israeli’s settlement in the West Bank. They highlighted the US opposition to what they call the ongoing trend of land confiscation in the disputed territory west of the Jordan River.
U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador Samantha Power, said the United States strongly opposes settlement activity, including some steps Israel has taken this month.
“We are deeply concerned about reports of a declaration of more than 370 acres in the Jordan Valley in the West Bank as state land.” – Ambassador Power
In addition, Ambassador Power pointed to recent steps that appear to have effectively created a new settlement south of Gush Etzion.
She stated that some 70 percent of the West Bank’s Area C has already been unilaterally designated as Israeli state land, or as being within the boundaries of Israeli regional settlement councils.
Ambassador Power said such steps aimed at advancing the Israeli settlement project – including changing the designation of land, issuing building tenders, and constructing new settlements – are fundamentally incompatible with the two-state solution.
Israel does not agree.
Ambassador Power says such actions may raise questions about Israel’s long-term intentions.
“That settlement activity can never itself be an excuse for violence – never.” – Ambassador Power
Evictions in West Bank and West Jerusalem Draw Concern
According to Ambassador Power, the United States is also concern with the demolitions and evictions that have been undertaken by Israeli authorities in several locations throughout the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
To cite an incident, on January 21st, 16 people – six of them children – were displaced when Israeli authorities demolished four homes in Jabal al Baba, a village which lies within the area known as “E1.”
“These actions reflect an ongoing trend of demolition, displacement, and land confiscation that continues to undermine prospects for a two-state solution.” – Ambassador Power
Call for Commitment to Two-State Solution
Ambassador Power reiterated the call for both Israel and Palestine to demonstrate with actions and policies a genuine commitment to a two-state solution.
She noted that Quartet Envoys traveled to the region last month to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leadership to explore ways to preserve a two-state solution, and the Envoys will meet again early next month in Europe.
“We also encourage the parties to take steps to address the issues underlying these challenges.” – Ambassador Power
The challenges referred to opening Gaza border crossing points, streamlining the civilian workforce, addressing infrastructure needs, and promoting broader economic recovery.
Preventing the supply of illicit arms to Gaza is crucial, as is supporting a process that results in the Palestinian Authority’s effective control of Gaza.
“We encourage leaders to take steps that will preserve the possibility of two states and further prospects for peace.” – Ambassador Power
a Look Back in History
Israel captured East Jerusalem along with the West Bank and Gaza in the Six-Day War in 1967, but annexed the city as its united capital in a move not recognized by the international community. The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as capital of their future State.
Many nations, including the United States, consider the settlements that Israel has built in what it calls “occupied land” as illegal.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks have been stalled since late September last year following Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month freeze on settlement activity. That decision prompted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to withdraw from direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.