Lo and behold just three days after the release of the Quartet report, Israel took the opportunity to announce the construction of 800 new settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Quartet report, released on Friday, July 1, criticized Israel’s settlement expansions as an obstacle to peace, averring that the ongoing construction “raises legitimate questions about Israel’s long-term intentions.”
The Quartet consists of the US, the EU, the UN, and Russia.
The news of the 800 new Jews-only housing units was announced on Monday, July 4. Does anyone think this is a coincidence? It does appear very much as if Israel is deliberately giving “the finger” to the so-called International Community, doesn’t it? The fact that Americans, forced to hand over billions of dollars a year, were celebrating their putative “independence” at the time probably gave the Israelis an additional chuckle.
It has been suggested that the Israeli announcement may have been motivated by last week’s killing of an Jewish girl living in a West Bank settlement, and perhaps that was part of it too, although I don’t think it was the main consideration. This is not the first new settlement expansion this year. There have been at least two other projects announced that I know of, including the appropriation of 579 acres of land near the Dead Sea back in March.
Here is what I24 News reports on this latest announcement:
The Israeli government has approved plans for the construction of 800 new homes for Jewish Israelis in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, while at the same time okaying 600 new housing units for Arabs in East Jerusalem, local media reported early on Monday.
The Haaretz daily quoted an unnamed senior Israeli official who described the latter move as “sweetening the pill” in the knowledge that the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is likely to be condemned by the international community.
The article goes on to report that the court decision allowing the construction of the new Arab housing units has been sharply criticized by an Israeli cabinet minister.
“Anyone who cares about a Jewish majority in the capital of Israel can’t promote construction for the Arab population alone,” said Zeev Elkin. “I call on the prime minister to also approve construction in the Givat Hamatos neighborhood for Jews. Jerusalem needs this neighborhood and over 2,000 housing units urgently.”
A “sweetening of the pill.” As if such were even necessary–and as if we’re supposed to believe that the announcement about the Arab housing units is anything but a dog and pony show. The bottom line is that Israelis will be building 800 new housing blocks on Palestinian land.
Why should the Israelis even care what anyone thinks? Nothing will be done to them. The “International Community” has proven this time and time again. The Palestinian guest commentator in the video below is correct: the only way to stop Israel from grabbing more land and building more settlements is by applying sanctions. Not a single Western country is willing to do that, however. Nor apparently is Russia. As I noted in a post on this issue a few days ago, the Quartet report was overall rather wishy-washy, and Russia’s signing onto it was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment.
Since this report came out, the UN’s Ban Ki-Moon has called the settlement plans “deeply disappointing,” while John Kirby at the US State Department voiced some criticism as well, terming it “the latest step in what seems to be a systematic process of land seizures, settlement expansions, and legalizations of outposts that is fundamentally undermining the prospects for a two-state solution.”
It’s all hot air. The “systematic process” Kirby speaks of has been ongoing for some four decades. It will continue until the “International Community” finally gets tired of having the finger flipped in their faces, though when that day will come is hard to say. The Palestinian gentleman in the video above is probably correct. It most likely will be “no time soon.”