As Israel’s parliament swore in a new government this week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his goal of annexing territory in the occupied West Bank. “It’s time to apply the Israeli law and write another glorious chapter in the history of Zionism,” he told the Knesset.
Ever since the deal between Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz took shape, including a commitment to advancing “sovereignty” in the parts of the West Bank allocated to Israel under the Trump administration’s plan, annexation has featured heavily in diplomacy and in analysts’ debates.
But amid all the discussion about potential consequences for Israeli relations with the EU or for the peace treaty with Jordan, not much attention has been paid to the possibility that annexation will ultimately be fudged. Read more
There is much talk these days about Israel’s “creeping annexation” of the occupied West Bank, from both critics and proponents alike.
Critics say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu‘s government, dominated by right-wing nationalists in both the Likud and Jewish Home parties, has been advancing various laws designed to prepare the ground for Israel to annex portions of the occupied territory. Read more
How many Israeli settlers – or settlement houses – until a two-state solution is impossible? That’s the question we should be asking our politicians, who frequently refer to a “closing window of opportunity” for a Palestinian state in light of Israeli “facts on the ground”.
Speaking in Parliament recently, UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson urged a halt to “the illegal settlements”; every time Israeli authorities “build new units”, he said, they “move us further from a two-state solution”, even if “they are not yet making it impossible to deliver the new map”.
So, the question remains: how many is too many? Read more
When Israeli opposition leader and Labour Party chairman Isaac Herzog published a plan for kick-starting the peace process last month, one of his stated goals was to “save the settlement blocs” – areas of the West Bank where Israel has built clusters of settlements, including larger towns.
Settlement blocs are often referred to by politicians and pundits alike, but there is no common understanding about precisely what the term means. Read more
The Israeli-Palestinian peace process is in dire straits but observers differ on whether the framework of negotiations towards a two-state solution is in poor health, comatose or dead.
The arrival of Donald Trump in the White House, along with an Israeli government and opposition that are either explicitly opposed to Palestinian statehood, ambivalent or believe it is not the right time, are all further evidence of an era of uncertainty and danger. But there is also an opportunity for a rethink by the international community about how they relate to Israel and Palestinians. And it is vital that any new approach must end the subordination of Palestinian rights. Read more
There is a growing consensus that the status quo in the Israeli-occupied West Bank is fatal to the possibility of an independent Palestinian state.
This was the take-home message of a recent, high-profile speech by US Secretary of State John Kerry, and, as pointed out recently by Yousef Munayyer, the diplomat himself warned four years ago that the window for the “two-state solution” would definitively close in two years.
Versions of this warning, that Israel’s colonisation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank is becoming irreversible, have been issued by Palestinians, Israelis and international diplomats and commentators for decades. Read more
“We are here to stay.” These were the words of Israel’s Science and Space Technology Minister Ophir Akunis, as he attended the ceremonial opening of a new “heritage centre” in Ariel settlement on 17 January. “I want to send the EU ministers a message from here, the city of Ariel,” the minister said. “No step or decision that you take will remove us from our land.”
Ariel, established in 1978, is one of the largest Israeli settlements in the West Bank, with some 20,000 residents, as well as a university. The colony lies some 12 miles from the “Green Line”, and was “strategically built to wind its way along a mountain ridge surrounded by Palestinian towns and villages on all sides.” The Ariel “finger”, or bloc, includes a dozen or so separate, official settlements. Read more
When Israelis go to the polls next week, PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s only serious challenger will be Labour’s Isaac Herzog. The latter heads up the Zionist Union joint-ticket, an alliance with Tzipi Livni’s Hatnuah party.
Since 2009, Netanyahu and his allies in the Knesset have frustrated the efforts of the U.S. and international community to advance the official peace process. Just two days ago, Netanyahu clarified that should he win re-election, there will be “no concessions and no withdrawals [from the Occupied Palestinian Territory].”
But what of Herzog and Livni? What if, when the dust settles, the Zionist Union is invited to head the next Israeli government? What is the alliance’s position on the Palestinians and the peace process? Well now we know. Read more