US SEcretary of State, Hillary Clinton, has backed the Israeli plan to continue building settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories & asked the Palestinians to enter into talks without pre-conditions. This ‘departure’ from the Obama administrations previous policy of a total freeze on settlement building is, presumably, an atempt to ‘unfreeze’ the diplomatic process. Mr Netanyahu is reported s saying that his government will adopt a policy of restraint whilst at the same time allowing the continuation of normal life for the settlers.
All very well for the settlers; has anyone considered normal life for the Palestinians? The main area where settlements will continue to be built is also a main area of contention: East Jerusalem; Palestinian according to UN Resolution, annexed contrary to international law by Israel.
The ‘restraint’ practised by Israel’s governments over 20 plus years has seen the settler population in the OPT grow such that a ‘two-state’ solution is probably unsustainable. No doubt the blame will be laid at the door of the Palestinians who, it may be said, have not always been well led or advised. (Not easy when your best leaders are arrested or subject of targetted assassination).
What we in the West fail to recognise is that the Palestinians and the Arab States have long since recognised the right of the State of Israel to exist; as distinct from a ‘Jewish State’. But there will be no solution, whether as one or two states until the International Community, including our own and the US Governments, hold Israel properly to account for her actions. Only then will peace be possible, both for Palestinians and for Jews.