In a bold move of defiance against the international community, Israel approved the construction of a new wave of settlements along the West Bank. The announcement came just days after President Donald Trump took the oath of office. Israel, now emboldened, is shaking off the restrictions imposed on the country by the Obama Administration.
The plans call for 2,500 new housing units to be built in the occupied West Bank. Israeli officials contend that these will all be built in areas they intend to keep in any future agreements with Palestine.
However, years of failed negotiations have left both sides at odds about the size of the settlement blocks. Palestine quickly denounced the plans and leaders from 70 nations met in Paris to condemn the recent move by Israel. During this meeting, Israel was warned that the two-state peace solution that the United Nations implemented could potentially be in jeopardy.
For decades, the United States and the rest of the international community have been pushing the idea of a two-state peace solution because it seems like the most realistic deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The goal of the deal is to get both Israel and Palestine to live side-by-side peacefully.
As per the proposed resolution, the land would be divided based on the 1967 pre-armistice line, or the “Green Line.” The line was set after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and served as the de facto border of the state of Israel until the Six-Day war in 1967, in which Israel captured East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights, Sinai Peninsula and the West Bank.
The solution dictates that the city of Jerusalem, which both sides want as their capital, would be shared.
The new settlement plans are a huge barrier that can prohibit the deal from working. Palestine is demanding at least 22 percent of Israel, which the Palestinians regard as their historic land. However, Israel has already built hundreds of settlements on the Palestinian side of the Green Line, claiming that these regions will be part of the Israeli state.
Additionally, the idea of a shared capital does not sit well with Israel and Palestine will not cede the Holy City. In his final days of office, former President Barack Obama expressed his frustrations on the topic of Israeli settlements when the United States abstained from voting on a resolution proposed by the United Nations, which condemned the construction of the housing settlements.
The United States has been a major player in getting the two-state peace solution deal to work. Former President Ronald Reagan stated in 1982 that “the immediate adoption of a settlement freeze by Israel, more than any other action, could create the confidence needed for wider participation in these talks.
Further settlement activity is in no way necessary for the security of Israel, and only diminishes the confidence of the Arabs that a final outcome can be freely and fairly negotiated.” Since then, every president from both parties has supported and pushed for a two-state peace solution. There is no reason to stop now. However, with the election of Trump, that stance may change.
Trump has stated that he intends to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, which is unprecedented. This is an audacious move by the new president because it signals that the United States views Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
He has also appointed David Friedman as ambassador to Israel. Friedman is an ardent opponent of the two-state peace solution and a supporter of the settlement expansion.
He has also referred to the Holy City as “Israel’s eternal capital.” However, in his classic fashion, Trump has stated that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may not be a priority for his administration.
A one-state solution would be unacceptable to a vast majority of Jews and the international community. If it were to happen, Palestinians would soon become the majority in the state, which would effectively bring an end to the Jewish homeland.
The two-state peace solution is the best possible resolution at this point. Unfortunately, the actions of both Israel and Palestine are making this dream impossible.