Say it over and over again, and never stop saying it. It is a truth that should be universally acknowledged that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are not the central nor the only problem preventing a peace process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Other factors — Arab terrorism, refugees, Jerusalem, Iran — can be considered as equal or more important. Nevertheless, the conviction that Jewish settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) are illegal and violate international law are “imprudent” is widespread in the international community.
One example of this conviction was the speech of President Barack Obama in Cairo on June 4, 2009, stating the U.S. does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements, “it is time for these settlements to stop,” The U.S. abstained from voting on UN Security Council 2334, passed 14-0 on December 23, 2016, which condemned Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories including East Jerusalem as “flagrant violation” of International Law and said they had “no legal validity.” The UNSC and other UN bodies on many occasions have held the settlements are a major obstacle to the achievement of a two-state solution and to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace.
A new book, Israeli Settlements: Land Politics Beyond the Geneva Conventionby Martin Blecher, a Swedish political scientist, challenges this conviction, while in unusual fashion not accepting or rejecting its validity. He does not clearly answer whether the settlements are illegal or imprudent but remains concerned with issues of land laws and ownership, issues that have been neglected.
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