Why Israel Builds Jewish Settlements on the West Bank

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1/   When Israel captured the West Bank in the 6-Day War of 1967, the territory:

  • was not Palestinian, having been occupied by Jordan since the invasion of Israel by five Arab armies in 1948,
  • was not claimed by the Palestinians,
  • was specifically disclaimed as Palestinian by Article 24 of the Palestinian National Charter, 1964.

2/   The PLO claim to the West Bank was only made later in the 1968 version of the Charter.  Since then, there has been no agreement between the Palestinians and Israel to end the conflict and settle borders.  Nor has there been any authoritative legal decision that the West Bank is sovereign Palestinian territory.  Therefore, the PLO’s statement remains a claim only.  

3/   Yet with two national movements claiming the same territory, a compromise solution to divide the area would seem to be reasonable and feasible.  However, the Palestinians continue to reject any such compromise.  They have consistently rejected a win-win formula to end the conflict and never wavered from a winner-takes-all commitment to the eventual elimination of Israel (see the Palestinian National Charter).  This is the driving force of the conflict.  It is also why a two-state solution on such a basis cannot produce a peaceful conclusion to the conflict but instead will be a prelude to a disastrous escalation. 

Settlements to safeguard Israel

4/   Consequently, if an amicable sharing of the territory is impossible, Israel needs to ensure its own safety by denying territory to a Palestinian state that would otherwise use it, or allow it to be used, as a base from which attacks on Israel could be prepared or launched.  Denying territory in this way also helps to protect vulnerable areas such as the ‘waist’ of Israel.  The Israeli experience of Hamas in Gaza demonstrates this need.

5/   All this generates a considerable Israeli defensive presence on the West Bank.  It also permits greater intelligence gathering from Israeli residents and the intelligence services.  Additionally, Israel’s own legal claim to the territory, enshrined in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine is maintained.  This is why Israel builds on the West Bank.  Given continued Palestinian refusal to accept Israel, the perspective is surely for more building.

UN again demonstrates how not to produce peace.

6/   Disastrously, the UN, the EU, and others have turned a blind eye to all this.  There is no rebuke, however mild, to the winner-takes all approach of the Palestinians, still less a severe reprimand or demand that this approach is abandoned.  This silence effectively tolerates and supports the Palestinian rejection of Israel. 

7/   As a result, instead of addressing the real causes, a constant stream of complaints is produced that Jewish settlements undermine the two-state solution.  No, they don’t.  What undermines any peaceful end to the conflict is the winner-takes-all approach of the Palestinians with their claim to the whole territory of Israel. 

8/   Otherwise, if the Palestinians had really wanted a state of their own rather than to destroy Israel, they could have accepted the legitimacy of the Jewish nation-state and agreed a two-state solution on many occasions.  For example, had they accepted the proposal of UNGA resolution in 1947 to partition the territory, they could have enjoyed a state for the past 75 years.  Alternatively, had they made a similar agreement after the 6-Day War of 1967 they would have had a state for almost 60 years – without any Israeli ‘occupation’ or settlements.


The Palestinians don’t seek peace with Israel, but peace without Israel.


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