As Americans who are deeply concerned for Israel’s future, we are distressed by the fact that Israel’s government prefers its settlement policy to an honest attempt to negotiate a peace treaty and final status agreement that leads to the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
Rather than heeding the condemnations of its settlement policy from members of the global community including the United States, Israel’s government clings to dubious justifications for this counterproductive policy. Rationalizations like ‘natural growth’ and domestic political pressures, and legal loopholes that the West Bank and Gaza are “disputed”, rather than “occupied”, territories are just empty excuses to delay the serious work of peace-making. At the same time, Israel’s government has repeatedly turned a blind eye to and often furtively abetted the growth of wildcat settlements.
It is time for such tactics to end.
Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line have always undermined the trust needed for peace, wasted Israeli resources, eroded the human rights of the people under occupation, and eaten away at the geographic basis for a partition of Israel/Palestine into two neighboring states.
More recently, Israeli refusal to permanently halt settlement growth has become a major factor fueling Israel’s growing isolation and delegitimization.
Now, Israeli settlement policy also threatens to damage the country’s friendship with the United States.
By refusing to terminate settlement expansion, the Netanyahu government is not only delaying peace and making it more difficult to achieve but also placing the United States in an intolerable bind. The language of the proposed resolution that settlements are, “illegal and … a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace,” is consistent with the US’ own view. The US cannot oppose the UN resolution and remain an honest and credible peace broker.
Because the United States is Israel’s greatest friend, Israel must act in a way that friends do. For its own sake and for the sake of the US, Israel must forestall the need for a UN resolution by declaring that settlement activity is done, once and for all.
Israel cannot expect the US to forever condone the continuation of settlement expansion or to defend such expansion on the world stage.