The Israeli Government recently advanced its approval to build an additional 3,400 settlement units in the E-1 area of the Occupied West Bank. The E-1 area is situated between Jerusalem and the West Bank, and prospective settlement expansion would result in severe repercussions for the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, as construction in E-1 area will divide the West Bank into a northern and Southern region and would eventually lead to severing the territorial contiguity of the Occupied Palestinian Territory. Commentators argue that the settlements in question would be the nail in the coffin for the Two-State Solution.
In response to the settlement proposal, more than two dozen House Democrats on Monday sent a letter to US secretary Anthony Blinken, imploring Washington to pressure the Israeli government to prevent the settlement construction in E-1.
Congressman Mark Pocan, who recently visited Israel and the Occupied West Bank, described the plans as ‘doomsday settlements’, as they would constitute a further violation of international law, and diminish the prospects of a viable future Palestinian State.
This comes after the Biden Administration’s strong rebuke of Israel’s settlement policy last month, with the State Department saying that it “strongly oppose[s] the expansion of settlements”. However, it is doubtful that the US, Israel’s long-standing and unmoving ally, will issue anything more than public rebukes.
A realistic reassessment for the US’ role in mediating the conflict is more crucial and pressing than ever. This view has been extensively analysed in the latest report of the special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the OPT:
“The United States has played a fundamental role in the shaping of modern international law and the rules-based international order, yet it has stained that achievement by consistently excluding those things from the Israeli Palestinian peace process. It regularly endorses the two-State solution, but it also insists that there must be no consequences for Israeli practices that have made that objective impossible. It proclaims human rights as a cornerstone of its foreign policy, but does not apply this yardstick to Israeli conduct. The disturbing reality in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is contrary to everything that the United States proclaims it stands for, yet its close identification with the Israeli occupation says otherwise.”
The failure of the international community to enforce its “own rights-based framework” comes at a high cost: the evaporation of what lingering possibilities remain for a genuine two state solution. This longstanding and remarkable exceptionalism granted by the international community regarding Israel’s conduct has allowed “realpolitik to trump right, power to supplant justice and impunity to undercut accountability.” The entirety of the international community is now under the obligation to create and employ a realistic framework, that views active international intervention as indispensable, employs a rights-based approach, demands the end the Israeli occupation with all deliberate speed, focuses on Palestinians right to realise their right to self-determination, and holds Israel accountable for its violations of international law.