With Help from the EU, the Palestinian Authority Builds Illegal Settlements in the West Bank

March 17 2017

According to the Oslo Accords, the portion of the West Bank designated as Area C—which includes all of the Israeli settlements—is to remain under the control of Israel’s government until the parties reach a final agreement. Yet the Palestinian Authority (PA), backed by EU funds, has been systematically constructing illegal settlements there—mostly small Bedouin outposts—in an attempt to interfere with Israeli claims to the territory. Josh Hasten writes:

[A] lengthy 2009 policy paper by then-Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad [argued] that by creating substantial “facts on the ground,” the PA [could] lay claim to those areas, and demand that they be part of “Palestine” in any future negotiations with Israel. And that’s where the EU comes in—to serve as the key financier of the project. Over 1,000 illegal structures, . . . with more being erected nearly daily throughout Judea and Samaria, now proudly bear the EU flag. The EU’s false claim is that it is involved in these building endeavors for “humanitarian purposes,” to provide for the Bedouin in these areas.

[Tellingly], the EU symbol can be seen on structures only in Area C; no houses displaying it can be found in areas A or B, nor can they be found in Bedouin communities throughout the rest of the Middle East. . . .

It’s important to note that despite the illegal PA/EU activity carried out by the Bedouin squatting around [the Jerusalem suburb of] Maaleh Adumim and the surrounding villages, [all of which would inevitably remain in Israel in the event of a peace deal], Israel’s government has repeatedly gone out of its way to offer permanent housing solutions for these families.

Blueprints for the establishment of a legal town [for these Bedouin] near Jericho, to be called Ramat Nueimah, were drawn up, but that plan has been shelved for the time being. This was a result of the PA leadership (and the EU) refusing to accept a practical solution that would enhance the Bedouin’s lives but would also lessen their grip on that strategic corridor.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Bedouin, European Union, Israel & Zionism, Palestinian Authority, West Bank

How the White House Can Bring Mahmoud Abbas to the Negotiating Table

April 28 2017

Next month, the Palestinian Authority president is expected to arrive in Washington to meet with President Trump, perhaps as a prelude to a summit between Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu under American auspices. A Palestinian delegation is currently in the U.S. to conduct preliminary meetings with administration officials. Eran Lerman discusses what can be accomplished:

The most important aspect [in the present discussions] may remain unspoken. It can be defined as “strategic reassurance”: the realization that after years of uncertainty under Barack Obama, the American administration . . . is once again committed without reservation to its friends in the region, the so-called “camp of stability.”

President Obama’s abandonment of [the former Egyptian president], Hosni Mubarak, regardless of the merits of the case, was catastrophic in terms of the loss of any residual political courage on Abbas’s part. Obama was sympathetic to the Palestinians’ cause, but his policies generated an acute level of uncertainty for the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah, laced with what seemed like a measure of support on Obama’s part for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and elsewhere. This was not an environment in which to take fateful decisions.

The Trump team seems to be working to restore confidence and reconstruct [alliances with] both Israel and the pro-Western Arab states. In this new environment, it could be safer for Abbas to take measured risks and enter into an open-ended negotiation with Netanyahu. The effort may still fall apart, if only because the Palestinians have fallen into the habit of posing preconditions. But there seems to be a better chance of drawing them in when they feel that their traditional patrons in the Arab world, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, are once again basking in the sunshine of American strategic support. . . .

At least in theory, it should therefore be easier now for . . . the White House to persuade Abbas to accept a point of entry into negotiations that stays within the two-state paradigm but is no longer predicated on strict adherence to the June 4, 1967 lines.

Read more at BESA Center

More about: Donald Trump, Hosni Mubarak, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process, U.S. Foreign policy