BY EMMA RUBIN '20
After a hiatus of more than 20 years, Israel has announced plans for the construction of a new settlement in the West Bank. Though settlements in the contested region have repeatedly been condemned by the international community, the announcement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demonstrated the state’s rejection of past censure.
The announcement comes after the recent evacuation of Amona, an illegal outpost that previously housed more than 40 families. Since 1992, Israel has created new housing and other buildings, but such constructions were considered additions to existing settlements. According to Vox, some Israeli citizens have established false settlements that are generally less developed than official settlements and deemed illegal by the Israeli government.
According to Public Radio International, after a petition from Palestinian landowners, the Israeli High Court ruled in favor of the evacuation of the unauthorized outpost, Amona. This settlement was founded in 1995 on private Palestinian land that was previously used to grow crops. Although the ruling was officially ordained about three years ago, execution was delayed until recently.
The inhabitants were given 48-hour notice to leave the area. The order and subsequent dispatch of police forces resulted in protests close to 1,000 people, from Amona and beyond, according to CNN. A spokeswoman for the police, Luba Samri, reported that about 60 officers were injured.
Speaking from the Ariel Settlement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he “shares the great pain of the families who were forced to leave their homes and abandon their life’s work.” He also expressed his hope to expand current settlements and establish an entirely new settlement on West Bank land.
Relations between the United States and Israel have shifted since President Donald Trump took office. Whereas the Obama administration was less supportive of Israeli settlements, most notably in December when the U.S. abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote to condemn the settlements, President Trump has shown significantly more support toward Israel based on statements collected by the Independent Journal Review.
A press briefing from Press Secretary Sean Spicer said “the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal [of peace].”
Lila Oren-Dahan ’20, an Israeli citizen, said, “Constructing a settlement now is a movement of expansionism and is purposely ignoring UN decrees.” She added that the evacuation of Amona was likely not done to abide by the court’s ruling, but rather to appease the international community.
“Israel now feels justified in doing this because of Trump’s presidency,” Oren-Dahan explained. “The U.S. head is now a staunch Pro-Zionist and more specifically he is Islamophobic and Anti-Palestine.” With regards to the topic of peace for Israel, Oren-Dahan said “It is something that requires a lot of talking and compromise which neither side is willing to do.”
The Arab-Israeli conflict has been a continual source of tension since the mid-20th century and despite peace talks and attempted international intervention, the conflict remains