Threat Posed by Israeli Colonies to Peace Process

  • 15 August 2013

While there has been optimism over U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s success in persuading Israelis and Palestinians to resume peace negotiations, halted since 2010, it seems that the Benjamin Netanyahu government is not serious about the process and continues with the implementation of its colony-building plans. This became abundantly clear when the so-called Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem declared the day before yesterday that it has approved construction of 942 new housing units in the neighborhood of Gilo in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The announcement of new settlement plans came just one day before the resumption of talks. It is not a coincidence that the venue of these negotiations is very close to the new settlement units, which confirms that the Netanyahu government is seeking to impose fait accompli on the Palestinians. The intention is to arrive at a peace agreement within nine months to resolve border issues, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees. Consequently, the Palestinian Authority condemned the new settlement plans and warned of failure of talks even before they got under way.

Although the Netanyahu government has agreed to resume negotiations, it is moving in the opposite direction as far as the peace process is concerned. The Netanyahu government’s recent decisions and its settlement plans are considered to be counterproductive, given the fact that the colony-building activities are expanding and the focus is on Jerusalem in an attempt to impose fait accompli on Palestinians.

The experience of recent years indicates that Israel’s intransigence, its frequent attempts to circumvent references to provisions of the peace process, its non-compliance with peace obligations and its constant hard line positions have created obstacles to peace, despite regional and international efforts, especial of the US, to make the peace process successful. A clear evidence of this is that the negotiations stopped in 2010 due to Israeli government’s insistence to continue with its settlement activities in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, even though they were in contravention of the obligations to achieve peace.

This situation may occur again during the ongoing negotiations. Hence Israel must be convinced to stop settlement activities, recognize 1967 borders and abandon its plans to Judaize Jerusalem. These are the essential conditions for any peace negotiations to move forward. At a recent press conference with his Colombian counterpart Maria Angela Holguin, U.S. Secretary of State reiterated that the US considers all settlements illegitimate.

There is now an urgent need for international intervention to exert more pressure to prevent Netanyahu from continuing with his colony-building activities. The Israeli intransigence will lead to the failure of ongoing negotiations that the regional and international powers hope would result in establishing real peace between the two parties. This will reflect positively on the security and stability of the Middle East, which holds great strategic significance for the whole world.