The victory of Donald Trump, the 45th President of America, has opened doors for Israel’s expansion in the West Bank through the new Jewish settlement blocs.
The Israel-Palestine conflict has a history embroiled in religion, identity and territory and the recent announcement by Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu on the construction of 2,500 settlements is another approach to outclass the Arabs in West Bank.
Jews have always believed in what they call a national homeland i.e. an independent Jewish state. This belief became a reality with the birth of Israel that began with the British handing over the disputed territory to the United Nations for peaceful negotiation between Jews and Arabs.
But the negotiations and the clear demarcated areas of Israel within Palestine did not sit well with the anti-British and anti-West Arab nations.
In the illusion of Arab rule in Palestine in 1948 (six-day) War, the Israelis having won the war found themselves in an advantageous position to further their borders till what came to be known as West Bank. A ceasefire line aka Green line divided the Jews in Israel and Palestinians in West Bank (under the control of Jordon- an Arab state) and Gaza Strip until the 1967 war. The war again gave Israelis the upper hand and allowed them to annex the West Bank.
Today, The plight of the 2.5 million Palestinians is their land in the West Bank.
The Oslo II Accord Agreement after the war separated the West Bank and Gaza Strip into three areas under:
- Complete Palestinian authority (80% of West Bank)
- Palestinians with limited autonomy (22% of the West Bank)
- Israelis settlements under Israel authority (60% of the West Bank)
Image source: Political Geography Now
The general view in the international circle is support for the notion of two-state resolution as a solution the Israel-Palestine Conflict and condemnation of the increasing population of Israeli settlements.
However, citing the biblical history of the Jews, Israelis claim the two religious towns Judea and Samaria as the reason for their strategic settling in the West Bank.
With Trump administration leading the White House, there are two points to look forward to:
First, what kind of foreign policy would initialize towards Israel.
Considering the pro-Israel stance of Donald Trump, the Israeli Prime Minister had enough push to declare the new settlement project in East Jerusalem of West Bank. Moreover, the new ambassador to Israel, David Friedman is not only against the two-state resolution but also actively involved in a settlement fundraising organization.
Second, there have been indirect hints of shifting the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to the capital of Israel, Jerusalem. This can be a change from the earlier predisposition of the US government. The Embassy was established in Tel Aviv as an apparent defiance of the Israeli expansion in the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, resented the Obama administration for their anti-settlement approach in the UN resolution. However, with the support of Trump, Israel can gain an unchecked position to the extent that can signify its regional power against neighboring Arab nations.
Along the tussle between Israel’s demand for greater autonomy in West Bank and slumping hope for Palestinian officials to build a developed state, the major obstacle is for both the settlers and Palestinians.
Most of the settlements are fully formed towns with well-structure houses and facilities of schools and universities. The policy of two-state cannot be completely achieved, as the existing settlements and their lifestyle is difficult to uproot. On the other hand, the Palestinians’ animosity could lead to mass protests and demonstrations and attract greater intervention from the neighboring Arab countries. Moreover, the Islamic elements already prominent in the Middle East could find it a winning opportunity to expand their conservative Islamic ideologies.
The delicate issue of Israel and Palestinians should be reflected cautiously especially from America’s point of view. Though Israelis claim religion aspect to justify their activities, it is necessary to maintain the international law and UN resolutions for peaceful governance.