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Israel’s latest settlement approval, provocative: Analyst

This photo taken on January 25, 2017 shows an Israeli soldier (R) standing guard in the Israeli settlement of Beit El near the West Bank city of Ramallah. (Photo by AFP)

The Israeli regime has approved the construction of 2,500 new settler units in the West Bank in defiance of international calls to end such unauthorized activities in the occupied Palestinian territories. There have been harsh reactions to Israel’s continued settlement activities, but short of any action, at least as of yet. Press TV has spoken to Alison Weir, executive director of If Americans knew, as well as Richard Millet, journalist and political commentator, to discuss this issue.

Weir says the Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

“They are illegal under The Hague Convention of 1907, Convention (IV), they are illegal under the Geneva Conventions, Protection of Civilians of Article 47, of 1947, they are illegal under Security Council Resolution 242 and most recently under the latest Security Council resolution,” she said.

The analyst also emphasized that the Security Council resolutions have the force of international law and they are legally binding. Therefore, she said, these Israeli settlements are “a flagrant violation of international law” as mentioned in Resolution 2339. 

She also denounced Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest settlement approval as “provocative” and “foolish,” noting that it has been criticized not only by the European Union but also by many Israelis.

She went on to say even the American Jewish Committee (AJC) which is extremely pro-Israel has condemned this move as “not helpful.”

Weir further stated this policy by Netanyahu which is pandering to certain portions of the Israeli right-wing “will not go over well,” arguing that it will provoke more distrust and hostility towards Israel.

She also said there is a great deal of “information, awareness and knowledge” of what the Tel Aviv regime is doing.  Thus, the Americans are waking up and they are “extremely unhappy” and “upset” about US military aid to Israel. 

The analyst also maintained that Israel has a “very powerful lobby” around the world, especially in the United States and Britain, which as a result Washington has had “very questionable” policies towards Tel Aviv.

She also ruled out the allegation that former US President Barack Obama was opposed to Israel, arguing that his administration’s plan to give Israel 38 billion dollars over the next 10 years proves his supportiveness, not hostility.

Elsewhere in her remarks, Weir said the reason why the Obama administration did not veto the recent anti-Israeli settlement resolution at the UN Security Council was to preserve the “two-state solution.”

She explained that Israel would get about 85 percent of Palestine and the Palestinians only 15 percent under the so-called two-state solution.

Therefore, she said, the ones who understand strategy realize that the policy would be wonderful for Israel but the ones who are “greedier” or have less understanding of the situation are pushing for more settlements.

The analyst further opined that US President Donald Trump will not relocate the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds despite pressure from the Israel lobby.

She concluded by saying that Trump will see the transfer of US embassy in Israel as “an inappropriate move” and will not be in favor of it just like all his predecessors. 

Meanwhile, the other panelist on the program, Richard Millet, said there is nothing wrong with Israel’s settlement activities, adding that they are not illegal and there have not been any court decisions related to them. 

“As everyone knows one and a half million Israeli Arabs or Israeli Palestinians are living in Israel.  Almost 20 percent or say about 15 percent of Israel is non-Jewish, it is Arab, it is Muslim, many Arab Muslims, some Arab Christians, so what on earth is a problem with Jews living on the West Bank? This is how Israel would argue it. This is how Israel sees it. It is doing nothing wrong,” he said. 

He also criticized the United Nations for passing Resolution 2334 (2016), saying the international organization is just a “hypocritical talking shop” where everyone votes for their own interests.

The commentator also stated it was not surprising that Obama did not veto this resolution given the “hostility” he had towards Israel during his eight-year tenure.

Millet further dismissed the fact that there is a strong pro-Israel lobby in the United States and Britain, arguing that if that was the case, Obama would have vetoed the resolution and London would not voted in favor of it.

With regard to the two-state solution, he claimed that many Israelis are “fearful” of a Palestinian state alongside Israel because it would possibly lead to “horrendous war and bloodshed on both sides.”

According to the commentator, there is no problem with moving the US embassy in the occupied territories. However, he said, because there is concern about incitement and violence taking place at this stage, Trump will not do it.

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