Continuing settlement expansion is bad for Israel’s future

The Israeli government led by Netanyahu must come to an understanding that continuing settlement expansion is bad for Israel’s own future.

By
December 26, 2016 21:14
2 minute read.
Israeli flag

A girl holds an Israeli flag on a hilltop near the Maaleh Adumim settlement. (photo credit: REUTERS)

Last Friday, United Nations Security Council members ganged up and adopted a resolution promoting a two-state solution. The Americans even colluded behind the scenes in order to assure Israel can remain both Jewish and democratic.

If Prime Minister Netanyahu sees this resolution as anti-Israeli, his vision for the state of Israel must not be a Zionist one. What is truly shameful and absurd is not the resolution’s content – as stated by Netanyahu – but the fact that the prime minister knew all along that his actions were making such a resolution necessary.

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Netanyahu has known that a UNSC resolution was on the table at least since the establishment of the current government he leads. Instead of freezing settlements, he kept looking for ways to continue expanding them without attracting the international community’s attention. Yet tricks such as establishing new settlements and referring to them as “neighborhoods” were quickly figured out by the international community. An attempt to call plans for new housing units “retroactive plans for existing structures” was immediately exposed by Peace Now. While trying to fool the international community, Netanyahu was actually fooling himself.

As US condemnations grew harsher, Netanyahu decided to postpone the demolition of the Palestinian village of Sussiya, realizing that a demolition could speed up action at the UN.

And yet, his competition with Naftali Bennett over who is more right-wing pushed him over the edge and led him to compromise Israel in order to satisfy his settler constituency.

For the Americans, the promotion of the settlement regulation bill – according to which Israel will expropriate 8,000 dunams of private Palestinian lands, legalize 54 illegal outposts as well as 3,850 housing units and seriously risk the possibility for two states – must have been the last straw.

By that point, no postponement was relevant. As Netanyahu was risking the Zionist vision, the international community, which recognized Israel as a UN member state in 1949 – took action.

It’s true, the international community watches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict extremely closely. This, together with power relations at the United Nations, create a situation in which Israel often gets criticized more than countries committing much graver human rights violations. But the extra attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at the world stage does not have to be a negative one.

In the case of Friday’s resolution, the global consensus around the two-state solution allowed the UNSC to adopt a resolution that is both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian. This resolution must be viewed as a constructive step, which ensures the two-state solution remains possible on the ground.

Through this resolution, the world is saying yes to Israel and no to the occupation, and is making the type of differentiation between the two that is most essential in fighting BDS efforts.

In September, Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly: “I believe the day is not far off when Israel will be able to rely on many, many countries to stand with us at the UN.”

Although a series of belligerent tweets from the Prime Minister’s Office shows that he thinks otherwise, that day arrived on Friday, and now Israel must follow through. The Israeli government led by Netanyahu must come to an understanding – not because of threats from the International Criminal Court but because of true concern for future generations here – that continuing settlement expansion is bad for Israel’s own future.

The author is Peace Now’s Director of Development and External Relations.
@bennunanat


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