Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Israel-U.S. Diplomatic Crisis and West Bank Settlements

It is somewhat reassuring, in a manner of speaking, that the United States finally sets its foot down and condemns Israel's expansion of their illegal settlements. Because maybe, maybe, maybe this is a sign that the international community will finally stand up for the Palestinian people and that the world will follow these condemnations with a demand that Israel make real effort to make possible a resumption of peace talks with the Palestinians.

But something I don't understand is why the U.S., the EU and the international media is so outraged at the illegal settlement expansion plans in East Jerusalem (yes, they are illegal and they damage any prospects for peace talks as well as an eventual two-state solution, but let's be fair--Israel never even pretended they would stop building in East Jerusalem so this shouldn't come as such a shock). I don't understand why the international community is outraged at the settlement expansions in East Jerusalem and don't seem to be bothered at all by Israel's continued expansion of other West Bank settlements (where they actually did say they would halt expansion for a period of 10 months, but clearly didn't).

I linked to this article before, but here is one example of illegal settlement expansion inside the West Bank.

On the way from Ramallah to Jericho, there are construction sites at the side of the road. The bulldozers prepare for infrastructure--for roads, for water, for electricity. This is in the middle of the desert, in area C (i.e. Israel-controlled occupied West Bank area) and there is no other plausible explanation than this: Israel is preparing for at least two new settlements. And people here are saying that soon, we don't know exactly when, but soon the new road between Ramallah and Jericho will be a settler/Israeli-only road closed for Palestinians. And if we want to visit Jericho, we will have to take the old, longer, bumpier, windier road that runs along the mountain sides.

I should have taken pictures to show you. I promise I will do that the next time we go to Jericho. If we can still use the new road.

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