Israel continues to build settlements in Palestine

Harry Kwon, writer

Israel and Palestine have been the center of great international attention, with nearly every major nation trying to aid the development of a peace agreement between the two nations. However, one major obstacle stands in the path of this agreement being created, and that is the continued building of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land. Specifically Israel has built settlements on the Golan Heights and the West Bank. 


These settlements have been condemned verbally by most nations in the European Union and Palestine, however no actual repercussions have occurred. Since 1949, the U.S. has been giving approximately 3 billion dollars annually to Israel for military aid, and previously for economic aid. Senator Elizabeth Warren said the U.S. could leverage it’s Israel aid, however the current U.S. president would likely not cooperate with such a move. So unfortunately, it seems as though no end is in sight at the moment.


The problem began in 1967 following the six day war, in which Israel acquired land from Palestine and Egypt. Israel would return the Sinai peninsula to Egypt in 1979, and then the Gaza Strip in 2005. However, the land they took from Palestine was never given back, and that is where the settlements began. From there they began constructing them in Egypt, Syria, and Palestine, but they would later remove the settlements from Egypt and Syria when the land was returned. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as quoted saying “With God’s help we will extend Jewish sovereignty to all the settlements as part of the land of Israel, as part of the state of Israel”, clearly demonstrating his desire to annex the Palestinian land currently settled upon by Israel.


No progress has been made since, with both Palestine and Israel frozen in a stalemate, unable to make progress on a peace deal. Israel continues to build settlements, justifying them by claiming the settlements are not an invasion, but rather a return of the Jewish people expelled from the region in 1948. This does make sense, as the settlements are almost entirely Jewish. However, even though it is true that many Jewish families were expunged from the region at the time, it does not justify Israel removing Palestinain families. Approximately 40% of the settlements have been built on private Palestinian land, obstructing Palestinian human rights. 


So currently Israel and Palestine are locked in a stalemate, with Israel continuing to build settlements and Palestine refusing peace negotiations until the settlement building ceases. However, as previously mentioned, the international community is doing practically nothing, only verbally condemning Israel. Part of this is because of U.S. president Donald Trump, who has been allying himself with Israel. “Trump’s a true friend of Israel” said Haim Rokach, head of the Golan Heights Regional Council. So if the U.S. isn’t going to help, Europe may be the only option left.


Currently Europe doesn’t recognize any exports from settlements as Israeli, so they don’t apply to their free trade agreement. In 2015, this resulted in the Israeli Foreign Ministry “suspending its diplomatic dialogue with the EU in various forums”, claiming the move was hypocritical and set a double standard. Israel also claims that the action taken by the E.U. was especially gregarious because of the terrorism threatening Israel. Obviously Israel is very firm in their position, and it seems as though nothing will move them. 


Overall, it seems that right now there is no way to solve this dilemma, as the international community refuses to apply pressure to either side. No international pressure gives no motivation for compromise without one side completely giving in to the other.  So for now, Israel will continue to build illegal settlements, and Palestine will continue to cry for justice without an answer.