Illegal Israeli settlements

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Israel’s right-wing government continues its efforts to violate as many international laws as possible, most recently by allowing the construction of over 4,500 housing units on the West Bank, which almost the entire world recognises as being under illegal Israeli occupation. Even the US — Israel’s most steadfast ally, apologist and defender — opposed the move which threatens any possible two-state solution. This is because Israel will eventually demand carve-outs to keep the illegal settlements connected to its internationally accepted borders, leaving the Palestinians with an even more fractured mishmash of enclaves and exclaves to form a country.

It is somewhat ironic that the settlement process was halted by Ariel’s Sharon, whose military career saw him being accused of war crimes, but whose premiership in the early 2000s saw him ban new settlements and clear a few existing ones in what is widely considered the last sincere Israeli effort towards a two-state solution. Unsurprisingly, incumbent Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who rolled back Sharon’s legal restrictions, also opposed them when they were introduced. Netanyahu, who is facing perhaps the biggest corruption trial in Israel’s history, is relying on the sluggishness of the Israeli legal system to keep him out of jail — most experts believe there is enough evidence against him to send him packing. However, populist actions such as the settlement move may give him enough political leverage to push through legal changes that would effectively allow him to drop the case against himself — something he almost managed to do a few months back before massive protests forced his allies to take a step back.

It is unfortunate, but the Palestinians have been reduced to nothing more than pawns in Israel’s domestic politics, as allies in the Arab world abandon them in favour of ties with Israel, and Western countries that champion human rights elsewhere fail to take any meaningful action against Israel’s blatant theft of Palestinian life or property.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 20th, 2023.

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