Time is running out for a reasonable and fair Palestinian-Israeli settlement, prompting many Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank to call for a one-state solution. After all, the Right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been daily and aggressively expanding its usurpation of the remaining 20 per cent of the original homeland of Palestinian Arabs.
The Israeli land-grab began in 1967, though their share of the 1948 United Nations Partition Plan had disappointingly given the Palestinians only 45 per cent of their homeland. After the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the Palestinian Arab population ended with only 18 per cent of their homeland and Israel in control of the entire Arab region called the West Bank.
And yet, Israel is still expanding its colonies in the West Bank and occupied Arab East Jerusalem without any loud reprimand from key western nations, especially the United States. For example, Israel has recently issued demolition orders for 20,000 Palestinian homes in occupied East Jerusalem. The Islamic Christian Commission in Support of Jerusalem and the Holy Sites reported that a primary school in occupied East Jerusalem and a mosque in a Negev Desert village were demolished. The estimate of Israeli demolitions is put at 120 to 130 homes every year under the pretext of “demolishing everything illegal”.
According to Washington-based political newspaper, The Hill, in a move that caused a stir among US lawmakers and some lobby groups, the US Customs and Border Protection agency had issued a reminder that goods produced in illegal Israeli colonies in the West Bank or Gaza should not be labelled “Made in Israel”.
In a rapid retaliation, Senator Tom Cotton proposed a bill to reverse that 20-year established labelling regulation, calling it “nonsensical” and “invidious”. It appears, the paper reported, that Cotton is taking his cue from Senators Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden, who proposed a bill objecting to the guidelines issued by the European Union on Israeli colony-made products.
According to a World Bank study, reported Foreign Policy, 68 per cent of the resource-rich Area C of the West Bank has been reserved for illegal Israeli colonies, while less than 1 per cent has been allowed for Palestinian use. But what was unbelievable last week was a column in the Washington Post written by two senior fellows of the pro-Israeli Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Dennis Ross and David Makovsky. Ross was former president Bill Clinton’s Middle East peace negotiator and special assistant to US President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2011, while Makovsky was a member of the negotiating team of US Secretary of State John Kerry during the 2013-14 Israeli-Palestinian talks. In their column, headlined, “A bargain with Israel on [colonies],” they noted that the prevailing attitude is that the Palestinian-Israeli conflict “is not about to be resolved”. Nevertheless, they added, “this is all the more reason to think about what can be done to preserve the possibility of a two-state outcome, particularly with the Palestinians entering a period of uncertain succession”. They argued that “the most direct way to begin changing the climate between Israelis and Palestinians in the hope of affecting Israel’s colony policy [is] by adopting a new approach on the contentious issue”.
In other words, Israel has to accept the new approach in order “to stem the drift toward a bi-national state, blunt the delegitimisation movement internationally and give us leverage to block future European sanctions against Israel. It would also — after decades — remove [colonies] as a constant irritant to US-Israel relations”.
George S. Hishmeh is a Washington-based columnist. He can be contacted at email@example.com