US Secretary Antony Blinken, who is Jewish, announced today a new, unprecedented policy of the Biden administration directed toward Jewish settlers and Palestinians living in the West Bank. He said the US henceforth will be “targeting individuals believed to have been involved in undermining peace, security or stability in the West Bank, including through committing acts of violence or taking other actions that unduly restrict civilians’ access to essential services and basic necessities.” This last target refers especially to Jewish settlers who use force or intimidation in restricting Palestinians from accessing their workplaces, such as farms or orchards. However, the Israeli government itself may have been guilty of doing that many times in the past.
Even though US President Biden has strongly backed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to root out Hamas from it tunnels in the current war in Gaza, he has recently become upset with increasing hostilities of Jewish settlers directed against Palestinians in the West Bank. Why? There is the possibility of the Israel-Hamas War in Gaza spreading to the West Bank. In late October, just weeks after this war began, Biden said that due to it Jewish settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank was like “pouring gasoline on a fire.” Along with this, US officials have complained to Israeli authorities that they need to do more in “hold[ing] people properly accountable.”
And that is what the US will now begin to do in a small way. Blinken said that both Jewish settlers and Palestinians living in the West Bank who are known to have committed atrocities against each other will not be eligible for visas to visit the US. And those guilty ones who have US visas will have them revoked. But the administration does not have the authority to do that to West Bank Jewish settlers with dual, Israel-US citizenship. It’s about time the US did something like this.
Why are Jewish settlers in the West bank increasingly committing hostilities against Palestinians? They obviously are emboldened by the war in Gaza. Yet, I’ve been saying for over forty years, especially in my book, Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia, that their grievance should be taken more seriously. It is that many of them claim a right to all of the land of the West Bank because that was the heartland of ancient Israel, the land of their ancestors, which was called “Judea” and “Samaria.”
This claim is the very heart of Israel’s two-page Proclamation of Independence, which is the sole foundation of the State of Israel. And the nations accepted this argument as indicated by Israel’s UN membership. This document claims Jews’ have a right to their “ancestral land.” But due to the distribution of the population back in 1948-1949, which Jews fought for and gained their state, they only got about half of their historical, ancestral land–Eretz Yisrael (which must be distinguished from the so-called “promised land” pertaining to the Bible).
I believe this is the way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict–let Jews annex the West Bank, swap coastal territory for it so that a Palestinian state be established there south of Tel Aviv as a very expanded Gaza Strip, and implement a transfer of peoples. It will be a more costly project, yet it will provide the best conceivable security for both peoples.