Israel’s expansion of settlements an act of “adding fuel to fire”

Friday, 2018-08-24 14:41:30
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The construction of another 1,000 properties is planned by the Israeli government in the West Bank. (Photo: Independent)
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NDO – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas recently warned that all peace treaties with Israel will be reconsidered if no transformations are made to the current situation. Israel’s hostile policies against the Palestinians are pushing the Middle East peace process to the brink of absolute collapse. Meanwhile, the “deal of the century” that US President Donald Trump has an “ambition” to implement has faced strong opposition from Palestine.

The bloody clashes between Israeli soldiers and the Palestinians over the past few months are threatening to cause a serious human tragedy in the Gaza Strip. At least 170 Palestinians have died, while the humanitarian situation in Palestine’s coastal land is seriously deteriorating. The United Nations (UN) reported that the budget used to pay for fuel bills in service of hospitals, watering plants and essential infrastructure in Gaza will soon be exhausted. Meanwhile, there is a severe shortage of medicinal supplies for disease treatment after 40% of the medicine reserves have been consumed. The Gaza Strip has been sandwiched by the blockade policy which continues to be implemented by Israel in response to the rocket attacks by Gaza into the Jewish state. Israel has even closed the road between the country and Gaza.

Amid the escalating violence in Gaza, the other occupied Palestinian territories in the West Bank are also under huge pressure, as Israel has passed a series of plans to construct more Jewish settlements. Despite the expansion of settlements being one of the major obstacles to the negotiations with Palestine, the Israeli government recently approved permits for the building of an additional 1,004 houses for Jews in the West Bank. Approximately 3,800 settlement houses have been approved by the Israeli government and are scheduled to be constructed in 2018. An estimated 500,000 Israeli people are living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the occupied Palestinian territory, which is home to approximately 2.6 million Palestinians. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has condemned the Israeli government’s approval of the project to build new settlements, stating that Israel’s plan reflects the “deal of the century” proposed by US President Trump.

The relations between the US and Palestine plummeted after President Trump recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the city. Meanwhile, the future State of Palestine with its capital as East Jerusalem is “immutable” to the Palestinians and they have had to sacrifice blood and bone in their long-standing struggle for the ownership of the land. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has condemned Israel’s policies, stating that Tel Aviv has violated all of the signed agreements, from the Oslo peace accords signed with the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) in 1993 to the Protocol on Economic Relations, also called the Paris Protocol, in 1994. The Palestinian leader has consistently affirmed his rejection of the US-backed peace agreement aiming to resolve the Israeli conflict with Palestine. The PLO strongly opposed the “deal of the century” promoted by the US President, which proposed removing the Jerusalem issue from peace talks in the Middle East. Palestine said this reflected the US’s bias for Israel and the illusion of the Washington administration. President Abbas affirmed that US President Trump would not be able to remove Jerusalem from the hearts of the Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims.

Following the decisions of US President Trump related to Jerusalem, Palestine has denied the US’s mediating role in the Middle East peace process. The construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories is one of the thorny issues that hinders the efforts to restart the Israel-Palestine peace talks which have stagnated since 2014. Therefore, while the violence in the Gaza Strip has not yet subsided, Israel’s policies on the expansion of settlements, as well as the continued blockade of Palestine’s territories, are seen as an act of “adding fuel to fire,” pushing the Middle East peace process into a deadlock.