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A Better Chance for Peace: Extend Israel’s Settlement Freeze

A Better Chance for Peace: Extend Israel’s Settlement Freeze

President Obama will certainly have a lot to discuss when he meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on July 6th. Hopefully, one of the topics will be the renewal of Israel’s current settlement freeze.


Last November, after a push from President Obama, the Israeli government adopted a ten-month moratorium on settlement construction and planning, which affected the Israeli-occupied territories of the West Bank and Golan Heights.

Settlement construction on these occupied lands seriously complicates the possibility for Israelis and Palestinians to advance peace talks. Most Israeli politicians, from every part of the political spectrum, have agreed that most of these settlements would have to be removed as a part of any final peace agreement. In that case, as indicated in past negotiations, the possibility of West Bank settlers being allowed to remain also depends on whether or not the settlement expansion stops.

Continuing construction on these sites undermines Israel’s assertion that it is serious about peace and disheartens many Palestinians and Israelis who see the two-state solution as a real hope. And when Israel’s dedication is questioned, people start believing that violence is the only way to get leaders to listen.

To accommodate all these settlers, the “security barrier” is continuously distorted, keeping either side from having a secure line of defense. The “security barrier” was put up between Palestinian and Israeli settlements to reduce violence and help keep settlers safe. Ironically, the contortions of this line end up leaving some Palestinians and Israelis stranded in less than friendly territory.

These settlements also strain the Israeli government’s budget and resources, especially since arriving at a solution would likely mean having to destroy many of these same buildings for which they had just finished financing the construction.

In an effort, then, to end this expansion, the current settlement freeze appears to be a great advancement — allowing Palestinians and Israelis a better chance at peace talks

While this has been a huge and important step, unfortunately, not all construction has actually stopped. Meanwhile, many other projects seem to be sitting and waiting for the day when the moratorium ends. At that point, the construction will leap back into full force, regardless of where the government may be in peace talks.

The Israeli government has made some great strides in the right direction, even if they are not doing everything they can to abide by the moratorium. And if this is extended for another year — without additional exceptions or loopholes — there will likely be a complete freeze on construction in the settlements for the first time.

Americans for Peace Now has launched an action urging President Obama to push to extend the settlement freeze when he meets with Prime Minister Netanyahu next week. Add your voice, and tell President Obama that halting construction on settlements is a necessary condition for peace.


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5:49AM PST on Nov 29, 2010

Lovely how a discussion over whether or not the settlement freeze is extended quickly degrades into knee-jerk antisemitism,conspiracy theories, and false accusations directed against Israel.

I guess that really shows how much people around here actually do want to see peace break out.

4:48PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Jennifer Griffith, if Gaza is being blockaded (all its borders are closed) where are they supposed to go? Float upwards? Or be driven into the sea?
It is arrogant of you to suggest that Palestinians have more land than they need. It is their land. Why should they go to other Arab countries? If I wanted your home, could I use your argument and say that there are other houses you could go live in? Ethnic cleansing is illegal, and for good reason. Arab countries HAVE taken in the Palestinian refugees, by the way, which they should not have to do if Israel would allow them to return- a right guaranteed under international law, by the way, which Israel continually blocks the implementation of.

4:40PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Di B. for your information, Walid Shoebat is a Lebanese Christian who is being paid by Israel to pretend that he is a former Palestinian terrorist. It's a good trick and it seems to have worked- it fooled you, after all.

4:22PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Jan L.- Gaza is being blockaded because Hamas was voted for and won. Hamas has offered Israel a 50 year truce, which Israel has rejected. Yes, I agree that the Egyptian government is corrupt and evil for closing the Rafah crossing, but Hosni Mubarak is being paid by Israel to do this. Ordinary Egptians hate the man and his cronies, but can do nothing. People are tortured in Egypt for being against the government, and the USA is allied with Egypt (and Saudi Arabia, for that matter, which also has evil rulers who oppress their citizens and women). Ordinary Egyptians are allowing tunnels to be build into the country from Gaza so food, medicines, animals, cement and other items can be smuggled into Gaza. Much is said about 'weapon's when in fact it is food that people want and smuggle because children in Gaza are now becoming stunted due to Israel's 4 year siege on the region. The cry 'from the river to the sea' means that Palestinians want to be free, not that Israel should not exist, but that people want their freedom, to live together in a true democracy, not an ethnocracy that sees Jews having more rights than Arabs. You should also do some homework and you will see that Israel wanted Hamas to become powerful in the first place in order to undermine the PLO. Israel protect Hamas member in the 1980s and funded them. This political interference worked against Israel who now have Abbas as their darling.

4:06PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Nancy V.- Arabs are not doing well in Israel. They are second class citizens there. Even Jews from Arab lands are treated less favourably than white-skinned Jews from the USA or Europe. Palestinians are killing themselves in suicide attacks because they have been oppressed for decades, having their lands taken, their relatives imprisoned by Israel for raising the Palestinian flag or throwing stones at tanks, or being in the wrong place at the wrong time. If people are brutalized and have been left without hope, it is little wonder that they adopt these methods to fight back. Palestinians, after all, do not have their own army as Israel does- the fourth most powerful on earth, mind you. Palestinians have homemade weapons and sometimes the most effective weapon they can use is to blow themselves up. I do not condone it, but I certainly understand why it is done. You point fingers at the other Arab regimes, but do remember that your government is likely an ally with many of these same regimes, as it was an ally with Iraq and Saddam Hussein once upon a time. It is all double standards and hypocrisy. Is Israeli state terrrorism any more civilized than an individual Palestinian's act of terrorism? How many Israelis have died compared to Palestinians? You should find out. A website called 'If Americans Knew' lists quite a number of statistics which show clearly what the facts are and where the blame lies. The blame does not lie with the victims, but with the oppressors.

3:48PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Simon D.- the Israeli settlers have no intention of becoming Palestinian citizens. They are citizens of Israel, yet are settling themselves illegally on Palestinian land. They have not paid for it, they have merely taken it over by force and support from the Israeli occupation army. A Palestinian is not allowed into Israel, and even Israeli Arabs, have less rights than Israeli Jews. It does not work both ways as you claim. Palestinians have no protection, yet an Israeli can go and settle on Palestinian land and be protected by the army while they are breaking the law. Don't twist reality.

3:44PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Nirit Z.- have you got any proof that Israel left behind 'mult-million dollar businesses'? I have never come across this claim before and would love to see your sources. The Palestinians were not transported from Jordan. Palestine under the British Mandate and under Ottoman rule had an Arab majority with about 10 percent or less of the population being Jewish. On the other hand, many Jews were in fact 'transported', often illegally, into Palestine to tip the demographic balance more in favour of Jews just prior to Israel's creation. Zionists knew that the state would fail unless they could swell their numbers significantly. That is why there is the 'aliyah' law- to get as many Jews as possible in strategic positions and with as much control of the physical resources as possible. You claim that Israelis don't celebrate when Arabs and Palestinians die? That is a lie. A person just has to read reader comments in Haaretz to know how much Palestinians are hated. Israelis are in full favour of 'transfer' a euphemism for ethnic cleansing.
Nikolas is unfortunately also perfectly correct in stating that the British helped the Zionists take the land to create their own state. Britian armed them, trained them, and gave them a promise that they could have half of Palestine. They betrayed the Palestinians completely. Britain behaved in a racist manner and still does to this day.

3:30PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Di B.- on the subject of being 'driven out by hate', you should read about how Palestinians were driven off their land. Ilan Pappe, Benny Morris and others have written detailed accounts of the Deir Yasin massacre and others that made this land available to Israelis. Palestinians still have the deeds to their land and the keys to the homes that they lost because of Zionist colonization. This is injustice. Many people have lived on this land- not just Jews, believe it or not. You cannot claim that this is a Jewish homeland when the Jews that settled it have come from Europe and the USA. Europe and the USA is their homeland. Also, people have converted to Judaism over the ages- do these converts also have mysterious automatic rights to usurp Palestinian property? The Palestinians have been living on this land for over 1,000 years, so it is more accurate to say that this is their homeland. Anyway, genetic tests show that Palestinians are the living descendants of the Ancient Hebrews, who either left, or stayed and converted to Christianity and Islam over the centuries. A small group of Jews continued to live and practice their original faith in the Holy Land, so they can claim to own the land in their possession. The Arab majority who lived on the land before Israel was created NEVER gave their consent to hand over half their land to create Israel. Thus, it is stolen land according to law and logic.

3:20PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

Lionel Mann, it is entirely right that the world needs to step in and sort this situation out. Israel is breaking the law and must be held accountable for its land theft, its taking land by force, its murder of people taking aid to Gaza, its extrajudicial killings of political opponents, its forgery of foreign passports, its war crimes in the Operation Cast Lead offensive in Gaza, and literally dozens of other crimianl activities. It must abide by United Nations resolutions as well. Otherwise, what is the point of having international and human rights laws if some countries follow the rules, and others go out of their way to break them? What message is the world sending Israel by standing aside and pretending not to notice every time it kills another Arab, or Turk? And then it is threatening to kill Iranians now. Dear God. And yes, America must put a stop to this rogue state- after all, America gives Israel $10 million per day of US taxpayer money, plus weapons, in aid. The US is not an objective oberserver in this conflict. US weapons like Apache helicopter gunships kill Palestinian children, it is just an Israeli flying the plane. Can the USA cause any more grief in the Middle East? Do you think that the USA is so well-liked around the world that a few more dead Palestinains won't make a difference? Believe me, each of their lives is just as precious as our own lives, and it is our moral responsibility to pull the plug on Israel's behaviour.

3:09PM PDT on Jul 7, 2010

I don't understand Marilyn K.'s comment. Palestinians are in control of their own affairs- health, education, and jobs. Yes, humanitarian aid does come from abroad, but Palestinians would not need it if Israel would allow them to have their own state. Palestinians DO recognize Israel's existence, but Israel does not recognize the Palestinians' right to exist and have their own state. The 'Apartheid' wall in the West Bank is annexing their land and water resources and with so few pockets of land now in Palestinian hands, the isolated pockets are no longer enough to make a viable state. Gaza is under a mortal siege- collective punishment, and the people there are unable to have a normal life with little food and little access to medical treatment outside of Gaza. Israel has created one bit open-air prison and if Israel allows some food in, that is expected that jailers should feed their prisoners. It is disgraceful that 750,000 children living in Gaza and trapped there have to live like animals while our leaders shake hands with Israeli politicians. The wall in the West Bank is higher and longer than the Berlin Wall and yet Israel is seen as a civilized, democratic state- yes, if you happen to be Jewish you can enjoy a normal, respectable life. If not, expect to live under a military occupation. The irony is that Palestinians are the descendants of the Ancient Hebrews, and this is how they are being treated on their own land by Zionist invaders. Life is full of injustice.

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