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

Reviving the Peace Process Brings Great Costs and Little Potential for Success

June 26 2017

Now that President Trump has sent envoys to meet with Mahmoud Abbas, it seems clear that he will try to revive negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, which he has declared to be “maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.” Even those less sanguine argue that there is little harm in trying. Not so, writes Elliott Abrams:

To begin with, it is always harmful for the United States to fail—and for a president to fail. Influence in the world is hard to measure, but when a president devotes himself . . . to any project and fails to pull it off, his influence and that of the United States are diminished. . . .

What’s more, the United States has been championing the “peace process” now for about 30 years. . . . On the Palestinian side many view the “peace process” as a formula for sustaining the occupation. Many Israelis see it as a shield protecting Palestinian malfeasance and worse: when they demand a stop to official Palestinian glorification of terrorism, they hear, “Don’t rock the boat now, negotiations may start.”

A further reason to be wary of another big peace effort is the opportunity cost. When each successive American administration works for a comprehensive peace deal, it tends to neglect the many opportunities to make less dramatic but still consequential real-world progress. . . .

During the George W. Bush administration, those of us on the American side often demanded concessions from Israel to “set the tone for talks” or to “get things moving in the talks.” These steps often gave Abbas symbolic victories, but they rarely contributed to state-building. For example, we were more concerned with getting Israel to release some Palestinian prisoners—who may have committed acts of violence—than we were about getting Israel to remove checkpoints or barriers that prevented Palestinian mobility in the West Bank and thereby made both normal life and economic activity harder. How returning convicted criminals to the streets contributed to building a Palestinian state was never explained.

Read more at Weekly Standard

More about: Donald Trump, Israel & Zionism, Mahmoud Abbas, Peace Process