International Condemnation of Colonies

  • 15 March 2010

Israel’s recent decision on construction of more colonies has drawn an angry international response, which was not limited to the irate US stance, but extended to the whole of European Union, which even hinted at the possibility of using its trade relations with Israel as a means to put pressure on it, as well as through “Quartet,” which condemned the decisions of the Netanyahu government. These condemnations came at a time when US and international agencies are trying to revive the peace process between two parties—Palestinians and Israelis.

However, Israeli actions stand against international position against colony-building activities, which condemn Israeli policies. This puts the Netanyahu government in a difficult diplomatic position, and exposes it to international pressure. However, it is worth mentioning that Israeli government does not address the real cause behind the outcry that pertains to its expansion of settlement that seek to annex the territories of East Jerusalem and West Bank, and destroy the prospect of an independent Palestinian state. It is merely trying to calm down the situation through diplomatic contacts, and some conciliatory gesture that does not reverse the colony-building plans. In this context, the importance of the statement indicated by the Palestinian National Authority by chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeeb Erekat—who sought to translate all international condemnations to Israel into binding decisions and policies to force it to stop colony-building activities. It has become obvious that the Netanyahu government has an enormous colony-building project for completely Judaizing East Jerusalem, and is refusing to stop the process of colonization as the price for resumption of the peace process. Instead, it has proposed a temporary freeze that excludes Jerusalem. The time has come for a strong international stand that delivers a clear message to Israel that there can be no room for equivocation and that complete and comprehensive end to colony-building operations is an explicit international demand for resumption of matters.

Experience shows that Israel is not worried about adverse international positions against it—regardless of their severity—as long as it is capable of handling these matters diplomatically and as long as these stands are not converted into actual policy decisions. Therefore, despite the recent severe international criticism, it has been able to avert effective pressure against itself, and the Netanyahu government continues with its destructive colony building plans, tempered by only a short-term freeze on some illegal settlement projects.  

Palestinian and Arab sides now have a great opportunity to benefit from the global outrage against Israel in order to increase pressure on Netanyahu and his government against its building of colonies, and to work to gain more support for the Palestinian cause at the international arena and to show Israel as a state that is unwilling to secure peace. In order to achieve this objective, it would have to first seek internal Palestinian unity and build a consistent Arab vision on the peace process.