Netanyahu adds another settlement bloc to the list of parts of Palestine that Israel plans to keep. And then there’s the Jordan Valley and so on.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has demanded that Israel retain a fourth settlement bloc in addition to three it has already demanded in negotiations with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has been working to hammer out a framework peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.
The settlement bloc in question is in the vicinity of Beit El, adjacent to Ramallah in the central West Bank. Israel has already laid claim to three other settlement blocs – Ariel, Gush Etzion and Ma’aleh Adumim. Settlement blocs refer to areas in the West Bank where the majority of Jewish communities are located.
Palestinians fiercely oppose the latest Israeli request, according to an Israeli source who has been briefed by the Americans.
Netanyahu wants to annex the four blocs but, according to the Israeli source, at this stage opposes compensating the Palestinians with a land swap of equal size and quality. The prime minister did, however, raise the possibility of buying some of the land on which the settlement blocs rest from the Palestinians and compensating them for other parts with land that is in Israel proper.
The notion that Israel can determine unilaterally which “settlement blocs” it will keep in any agreement with the Palestinians is yet another invented Israeli fact on the ground.
Any land that is now part of Palestine (in the occupied Palestinian territory, i.e., beyond the 1967 green line) is subject to discussion with the Palestinians in negotiations and potentially could be part of “mutually agreed-upon” land swaps.
Nowhere has Israel been given the right to determine unilaterally what it will “keep.” Indeed, even George Bush’s (in)famous letter acknowledging that there will be territorial changes based on realities on the ground also states that any such changes/swaps will be subject to negotiations with the Palestinians.
Sometimes, it looks as if Israel, with its endless colonial provocations, is begging to be hit with boycott, divestment, and sanctions. And it deserves to get them.