Israel has a long, repeated history of doing something that ends its peace process with the Palestinians right when important negotiations with them are about to begin. Now they’ve done it again. It often involves Israel announcing plans to construct housing units in some Jewish settlement in the West Bank or East Jerusalem. Guess what! That’s what it is this time, too.
On Sunday, Israel announced that it will build 1,200 more settlement homes: 2/3s in the West Bank and 1/3 in East Jerusalem. And tomorrow, Israel and the Palestinian Authority are scheduled to begin official peace talks after five years of dormancy. This freeze of the peace process was caused largely by Israel expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These negotiations will be brokered by the U.S. Its goal is to achieve an agreement between the two parties within nine months on where a Palestinian state will be located. The Palestinians want it in East Jerusalem, most of the West Bank, and all of the Gaza Strip, the last two being separated territories. However, the Palestinians have introduced a new idea, in which they are willing to swap land.
Israel has 120 Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem with a total of 570,000 Jews living in them. Palestinians claim this land in which to establish their Palestinian state because they possessed it prior to the 1967 Six-Day War with Israel. To unbiased minds, Israeli decisions to build settlements in this occupied/disputed territory indicate that Israel does not operate in good faith regarding the peace process. How so?
The UN as a whole regards these settlements as illegal according to international law. Israel is a member of the United Nations, and it very much wants to stay that way. To be a UN member, a nation accepts its Charter and thus promises to abide by its articles. UN Article 6 states, “A Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the present Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.” And UN Security Council resolution 465 of 1980 called on Israel “to dismantle the existing settlements and in particular to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.” So, Israel has been in violation of this UN, international law for decades. But because the U.S. is Israel’s #1 ally and a member of the UN Security Council, it always vetoes any effort by UN members to expel Israel.
As a result of Israel’s recent announcement to resume more settlement construction, it has been reported that the Palestinian Authority is considering abandoning the peace process just as it is about to restart it tomorrow. New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has done much work to restart talks. Saeb Erekat, chief negotiator for the Palestinian Authority in its conflict with Israel, said yesterday, “The settlement plans contradict the principle of confidence and goodwill that the resumption of negotiations should have provided.”
Having said all of this, I believe Israel’s settlements in the West Bank will lead to all of the West Bank being annexed to Israel and a Palestinian state being established on the Mediterranean coastal plain in the form of a very, expanded Gaza Strip. And I think it is quite possible that the now tumultuous northern Sinai Peninsula will be excised from Egypt and joined to the Gaza Strip. It could take years or decades. Why do I believe this? It’s in the Bible.
(See Kermit Zarley’s book on this subject entitled Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia.)