For Israel, the settlement enterprise, as many refer to it, is about the stealth of land and legitimizing this covertness. It is an expansionist scheme to cement Israel’s colonialist designs on the Palestinian people. The Wikipedia defines settler colonialism as follows: “Settler colonialism is a form of colonial formation whereby foreign people move into a region. An imperial power oversees the immigration of these settlers who consent, often only temporarily, to government by that authority. This colonization sometimes leads, by a variety of means, to depopulation of the previous inhabitants, and the settlers take over the land left vacant by the previous residents. Unlike other forms of colonialism, the “colonizing authority” (the imperial power) is not always the same nationality as the “colonizing workforce” (the settlers) in cases of settler colonialism. The settlers are, however, generally viewed by the colonizing authority as racially superior to the previous inhabitants, giving their social movements and political demands greater legitimacy than those of colonized peoples in the eyes of the home government”.
The Israeli occupation of Palestine is one of the only remaining settler-colonial occupations in the world today. In an article titled: Israel’s Colonialism Must End, Ali Jarbawi, former Minister of Planning and Administrative Development and the former Minister of Higher Education of the Government of the Palestinian National Authority writes: “Centuries of European colonialism have provided the world with certain basic lessons about subjugating colonized peoples: The longer any colonial occupation endures, the greater the settlers’ racism and extremism tends to grow. This is especially true if the occupiers encounter resistance; at that point, the occupied population becomes an obstacle that must either be forced to submit or removed through expulsion or murder… In the eyes of an occupying power, the humanity of those under its thumb depends on the degree of their submission to, or collaboration with, the occupation. If the occupied population chooses to stand in the way of the occupier’s goals, then they are demonized, which allows the occupier the supposed moral excuse of confronting them with all possible means, no matter how harsh.”
With the arrival of Trump in the White House, Tel Aviv now displays remorseless expansion of settlements. The announcements of new settlements come close on the heels of each other. Trump has emboldened Israel in far too many ways for comfort. Reckless politics will always have a boomerang effect. Despite bald threats, Trump did not stop the US veto from abstaining in the UNSC vote on December 23, 2016. That itself was too little, too late from the Obama administration. Still, the rest of the world was undeterred. The message was that the international community would brook no more of the settlement nonsense.
Israel’s gambles with settlements are a threat to any viable peace. Should a peace be brokered under some unusual circumstances, and a two-state settlement ever take root, what would the fate of the settlers be? They would have to collapse under the provisions of international law. They now live on land captured in the 1967 war. If they were forced to surrender their homes and leave, it would leave Israel’s polity virtually dismembered. For after all, they are the most placated lot in Israeli politics. They have been blinded into acknowledging that they live in Israeli land and hardly recognize that their colonies are built on stolen land and now view their status as an entitlement.
Israel has placed itself in a ‘Catch 22 situation’. For peace to become a reality, they must surrender what they have stolen and deprived Palestinians of. If a two-state solution must take effect. The other option is one-party state where Israel will rule but with Arabs soon being the dominant numbers. That will be a crude induction of an apartheid state.
Has Israel crossed the Rubicon? By a long shot! Is there a dignified exit possible from this self-inflicted, self-destructive political gamble of a deepening and widening occupation? Has it dig itself into an abyss so deep from where it cannot extricate itself? The Palestinians have rejected the settlements and they will not admit a compromise formula. They may lack the political power to reverse their own situation on their own at this point in time. This situation, therefore, obliges the international community to enforce the solution based on a just and uncompromised imposition of international law. It is they, after all, who perpetuated the problem by indifference and lethargy.
If, in the near future, a robust BDS comes into force, Israel will not have a face-saving formula in its political repertoire to surrender its political arrogance and pomp. The empire Israel has built is bound to crumble and collapse into nothingness. Trump himself may desert the shrinking ship, provided he is around in the White House and not, as yet, been declared insane by then!
The warning signs are plain. Israel must find a just peace- sooner than later. It can build all the settlements it wants. In the final analysis it will belong to the Palestinians because the settlements belong in their lands.
Commentator and analyst
Justice in Palestine