State of Settlements in the West Bank

  • 9 December 2007

At a time when many had started to hope that the Annapolis Conference would revive the peace process, as Washington had made a commitment for establishing an independent Palestinian state by the end of 2008, Israel’s activities undoubtedly confirm that Tel Aviv will not proceed on the road towards achieving a political solution. This is evident from Israel’s declaration that it intends to build four new settlements in the West Bank. This is in addition to the planned construction 3,500 housing units to connect occupied Jerusalem with the Maalih Adomim settlement. The cornerstone for the first settlement will be laid in the E1 area on Sunday, located in an area of 12,000 sq meters lying between occupied Jerusalem and Maalih Adomim located to the east of Jerusalem. At the same time, Israel continues its aggression on the Gaza Strip that has claimed 25 causalities since the Annapolis convention. Moreover, statements from Israel reveal its plan for a wider invasion of the Gaza Strip. Even more alarming is the fact that Jewish settlers in the West Bank have launched a campaign for establishing an “autonomous state.” One Israeli organization has even started distributing flyers in Jewish places of worship, and has promised monetary reward to the person who would come up with the best slogan and anthem for the “Jewish settler state” in the West Bank, before Israel withdraws from the occupied territories. Rabbi Shalom Dov has stated that the only solution to Israel’s approval of the establishment of a Palestinian state and its legislation for compensation of settlers for evacuating the lands would be the declaration of a Jewish state enjoying autonomous rule.

Unfortunately, these developments threaten to undermine the understanding reached at Annapolis. It also comes at a time when divisions within the Palestinian front are increasing, with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “Abu Mazen” criticizing Hamas for agreeing to the establishment of the Palestinian state only as a temporary state, in order to promote its image internationally through dubious means. He has also refused to hold any dialogue with the movement until it ends its “coup” in the Gaza Strip. Therefore, efforts to initiate a new dialogue between Hamas and Fateh are floundering.

Undoubtedly, Israeli actions are threatening to blow up all chances for the peace process. It is important that influential international powers—that attended or supported Annapolis convention—force Tel Aviv to stop carrying out its actions. Meanwhile, Arab countries that unanimously attended the Annapolis Conference, are called upon to intervene in order to stop Israel from manipulating peace process in the future. These countries should make necessary efforts to unite Palestinian factions at this time, as it affects the destiny of the Palestinian cause.