There has been a lot of news devoted to the issue of Israeli settlements lately. Some believe it is in bad taste that Israel announced plans on Monday to build another 272 homes in “settlements in the occupied West Bank” during a time when they are seeking peace agreements with Palestinians. In addition, it was announced just yesterday that an additional 1,400 new homes would be built in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem area. Senator John Kerry has completed round ten of his efforts, trying to produce an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
The United Nations has said that for Israel to be building on occupied land is illegal. However, this land in question called “occupied land” was acquired legally and they have a right to build on their own land. Palestinians say that this land will soon be theirs once the peace deal is brokered, but Israel has no intention of turning over this land. The land they are building upon is land they intend to keep in any final peace agreement.
USA Today has printed the statement: “Israel has refused to suspend settlement building for the duration of the current round of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that began in late July under intense U.S. pressure.” This statement strikes me as being very odd. If you will recall, when preparations to negotiate began, Israel was given a choice of preconditions. They could either 1) Release 104 long-serving Palestinian inmates (most convicted of killing Israelis OR 2) discontinue any settlement building on “occupied land.” Israel chose to release prisoners. They have kept their end of the bargain. In fact, twenty-six were freed last month in the third stage of releases. Since Israel has kept their bargain, why is the news media focusing on the fact that Israel is continuing to build on their own land? It seems to me that if the Palestinians are so sure of eventually owning this land, they should be grateful Israel is doing the building for them!
The United States has been brokering the Israeli-Palestinian talks which resumed last July after a three-year freeze. Senator John Kerry has been pushing for an agreement within nine months, however, there is talk now that the April deadline may be extended.