Expansion of Israeli settlements destroys basis for real peace with Palestine

Expansion of Israeli settlements destroys basis for real peace with Palestine
Israel and Palestine are no closer to peace, as both sides are being pressured into negotiations by the US, and Israel has no real desire to reach a final status agreement, experts told RT.

It is not likely that the Americans will pursue and push what John Kerry believed would be 9 months of negotiations leading up to a final status peace deal, Dr. Ron Pundak, CEO of Israeli Peace NGO forum, told RT.

“My humble opinion is that the ability to come today to a final status agreement is impossible, because we have a Palestinian partner for a final status negotiation but we don’t have really an Israeli partner currently,” Pundak said.

“We had in 2008 a courageous Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who was ready to do it but unfortunately since he had legal problems the negotiations stopped. The current government lead by Netanyahu will not move forward,” he added.

Pundak believes that the Israelis and Palestinians are no closer to peace because “the two sides are coming to these negotiations not by a sheer will and wish, but by the pressure of the Americans.”

“While they (Israel and Palestine) sit at one table they will start to discuss the final status issues, the issues of borders, the issue of security, Jerusalem partition, and sensitive issues like Palestinian refugees. As I know the situation and I am following and participating both in negotiations and outside following it, the gaps between the current Israeli government and the Palestinian side are too big, too huge, too deep to be bridged on final status issues,” he believes.

Reuters / Amir Cohen

True story is told by settlement expansion

Paul Murphy, Irish MEP from the Socialist Party, told RT the talks are somewhat of a charade. The reality, he says, “is that the Israeli establishment is determined to undermine any basis for a viable Palestinian state that is why it is expanding the settlements.”

“The reality is told by the actions of the Israeli government, the expansion of the settlements is the main story and the Praver Plan, which displaces 40,000 Arab Bedouins in the south of Israel. If that is the case there is no basis for these talks to come to an agreement which would give justice to the Palestinians and the basis for real peace,” Murphy believes.

According to Pundak, the settlement issue is obviously a problem and currently the Israeli government is also tied within itself, within a coalition. He argues there will be “a very small process of continuation of activity in the settlements, but the Americans will be able to contain it as long as there will be negotiations.”

Meanwhile, the settlements expansion puts the Palestinian Authority leadership under a lot of pressure, according to Murphy.

“They (PA leadership) want to go ahead with these talks. But it is clear that the aim of the doubling of settlements over the past 12 years is to break up the West Bank. It undermines any basis for a coherent Palestinian state because in any negotiations the Israeli authorities will say ‘these people want to be part of Israel and therefore we will try to break over Palestinian state’. It’s directly aimed at any idea of a viable Palestinian state,” Murphy told RT.

Murphy says there is a lot of opposition among the Palestinians to these talks going ahead on the basis that settlement expansion continues unabated. He believes the release of prisoners is something to give to Abbas to say that the Israelis are serious, but the true story is told by the settlements.

“The actions of the Israeli establishment since the start of the Israeli state has been to create facts on the ground and that is what being attempted here once more. I think those of us who are fighting for justice for the Palestinians, for real and genuine peace, that recognizes the rights and self-determination and security of ordinary Israeli Jews and Palestinians, have to try and create our own facts on the ground which can only be based on the mass movement from below of Palestinians at rising up against the settlements, against the occupation, against the blockade of Gaza, taking the inspiration from the revolution in Egypt and Tunisia, creating a Palestinian Spring which can also have an appeal within Israel itself,” Murphy concluded.

‘Concessions towards Palestine don’t bring Israel security’

The expansion of the settlements is a response to the actions of the Palestinian authorities, which reply with violence and one-sided moves to all the goodwill gestures from Israel, Alex Selsky, a former spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister's office, told RT.

“First of all, nobody will stop us building in Jerusalem and around Jerusalem. It’s our historic land.” Selsky said. “Second, I remind you that this decision [to expand settlements] wasn’t born yesterday. It’s a reaction to of the Israeli government to the unilateral steps of the Palestinian Authority breaking the Oslo Accord to the UN.”   

Selsky, who is CEO of the World Forum of Russian-Speaking Jewry, said there were plenty of proposals by Israel aimed at promoting peace in the region, but they were all turned down by the Palestinians.  

“We already froze building settlements, you know, in 2010, I remind you. What did we get? We’ve got the unilateral steps of the Palestinian Authority going to the UN. In 2005, we gave another very big gesture of goodwill and we left Gaza,”
he said. “Everybody said we should leave Gaza. We did that. What we got?  We got thousands and thousands of rockets at our schools. And you know what? I remind you, also in Camp David in 2000, we gave the Palestinian authorities almost all the land they wanted and the Palestinian Authority to build a Palestinian state. What we got? Violence and intifada.”  

“Yet you come to us and you claim that we should give more and more – and yet we don’t get security. We only get violence,”
Selsky added. 

The security is of the Israeli state is and will always be the “highest priority for the Jewish people,” Selsky said. “Because without the strong state of Israel and without security in Israel, Jews can’t be secured in any place in the world. And we know what happened to Jews when they didn’t have a state.”