File picture: Palestinian laborers work at a construction site in a new housing project in the Israeli colony of Maale Adumim, near occupied Jerusalem. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: In an unexpected move on Monday, the US announced the legalisation of Israeli colonies in the Palestinian territories.

This news did not come as a surprise for Palestinians, Gulf News learned.

Once asked about his reaction on the recent move, a 33-year-old Palestinian citizen and resident of Palestine, Mahmoud Adnan told Gulf News: “It is nothing new. The US is once again giving away what it does not have to those who do not deserve it."

Adding: "Settlements (colonies) are there whether we like it or not. Unfortunately, we are supported by words not by actions. I just want to live a normal live. I just want to make a living, feed my children and take care of my parents. This is my end goal in life.”

From day one, Donald Trump has been openly supporting Israel, the same way as his predecessors, however none other than Trump actually fulfilled his promises. He vowed to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and he succeeded.

He additionally recognised the Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights, seized from Syria in 1967.

Arabs took no action. They just condemned the behavior.

Now, the Trump administration declared that the United States does not consider Israeli colonies in the West Bank illegal and a violation of international law.

Gulf News spoke to a Palestinian father, who asked not to be identified.

“It is not shocking to see the US legalising settlements (colonies). The US and Israel are two faces of the same coin. Whether or not the US or the rest of the world are legalising settlements (colonies), they are there and growing day after day. Settlers are killing and burning Palestinian in full view of the world but nobody cares. The world is just turning a blind eye to what is happening in Palestine,”

A 35-year-old Palestinian man living in Palestine told Gulf News, “The US decision is yet another test for Arabs, who will absolutely fail as they always do. I am fed up with politics and time-wasting promises. I have been hearing about negotiations and two-state solution since my childhood but nothing works out."

Adding "I don’t know what we will end up with. Life in Palestine is getting miserable day by day and we are getting poorer and poorer. My own concern is only getting the food for my family. I do not need anything more.”

Israel's colonies in the occupied West Bank are one of the most heated issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinians want the area, captured by Israel in a 1967 war, for a future state.

The United States on Monday effectively backed Israel's right to build Jewish colonies in the territory by abandoning its four-decade-old position that they were "inconsistent with international law," a stance that may make Israeli-Palestinian peace even more elusive.

Israel has built more than 120 colonies in the West Bank, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the run-up to an election in September, renewed his pledge to annex them, alarming the Palestinians.

As for the 72-square-kilometre occupied East Jerusalem, Israel confiscated many Arab properties leaving Arabs to control only 13 per cent of occupied East Jerusalem at present Image Credit: Gulfnews

"That land is my heart and soul"

Most of the international community sees the colonies as illegal and major obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace, a view Israel disputes.

Azmi Musleh, 53, a local farmer, said Ofra a colony established in the 70's sits on land his family used to cultivate he told Reuters.

"That land is my heart and soul. It is my family's heart and soul. We used to grow sesame, figs, olives, back to the time of my father, his father, and his father before him," Musleh said.

Ali Farun, 74, from the Palestinian town of Al Eizariya, about 1.5 km from Maale Adumim (colony) has little hope of the territory ever coming under Palestinian control.

"It doesn't matter if they annex it to Jerusalem or if it remains West Bank - they control it, one way or another," said Farun.

Bothena Turabe, saw the colonies grow from her Palestinian village Sarra.

"In the night you look at them and you think there is nothing, and the next morning you look and you see there are more caravans," said Turabe, 47, a member of the village council. "This land is not yours to take - you're stealing it."

Beitar Illit is a settlement built for Israel's fast-growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish community.

According to Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlements watchdog, Beitar Illit saw the most construction of all Israel's West Bank colonies in 2018.

For Mohammad Awad, a 64-year-old farmer from Wadi Fukin, a Palestinian village next to Beitar Illit, it makes no difference why people come to live in the settlement.

"It's impossible to have peace between us because the main conflict between us is on a piece of land which they took by force, so how can I let a person steal my land, live in it and enjoy it, and live with him in peace?" he said.