Jewish Labor Committee Opposes Israel’s Settlement Expansion, Calls on Government, NGOs, to halt Expansion of Current and Establishment of New Settlements
January 31, 2017: New York, NY
The Jewish Labor Committee opposes the expansion of Jewish settlements within the West Bank and East Jerusalem, particularly the most recently-announced Israeli Government’s authorization of the construction of 2,500 new housing units in West Bank settlement. We also oppose the so-called settlements bill, now under consideration in the Knesset, which would retroactively legalize close to 4,000 settler homes that are on private Palestinian property in Area C of the West Bank.
The entire enterprise of enlarging existing and creating new settlements beyond the borders of the State of Israel is unwise, and harmful to the best interests of Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. Such actions make a peacefully negotiated end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict harder to achieve. It is with alarm that we note that it is increasingly clear that elements within and outside Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition, including the Prime Minister himself, are emboldened by the emerging shape and policies of President Trump’s new administration to expand Israel’s presence and assert its dominance in these areas.
We call on the Government of the State of Israel to halt the expansion of current settlements beyond the Green Line, and the establishment of new settlements there, and ask non-governmental agencies, from the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization to the Jewish National Fund / Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael to end their cooperation with the government’s settlement activity.
President Trump has indicated his openness to expanding Israeli settlements by naming David M. Friedman as United States ambassador to the State of Israel and in suggesting that the U.S. should move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Mr. Friedman has headed an American fundraising organization for a West Bank settlement and communicated his hostility to even the idea of a negotiated two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.
Two announcements have been made in the past several days for the building of over 3,000 new housing units for Israelis in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. Although 2,500 are being planned for what Israel regards as “settlement blocs,” land contiguous with Israel’s pre-1967 border that most Israelis expect to annex even if a peace agreement is reached with the Palestinians, there is no agreement with the Palestinian Authority defining those blocs, and none that currently permits Israel to build there.
Particularly contentious are the 900 units slated for the Ariel bloc, the narrow sliver of land outside of the State of Israel leading to and including the settlement town of Ariel, which has a population of 20,000 Israelis. Most Israelis expect Ariel to eventually be incorporated into Israel, while Palestinians view its location as especially problematic, because it projects deep into Palestinian-populated territory, virtually cutting the West Bank into two non-contiguous segments.
The Jewish Labor Committee reiterates its strong belief that only a freely negotiated two-state solution between the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority can guarantee Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic, and secure country. While we understand that there will probably need to be mutually-agreed-upon exchanges of territory agreed upon by the two parties in a final peace accord, Israel’s unilaterally creating new facts on the ground is making negotiating a two-state peace all the more difficult.
The Jewish Labor Committee expresses its solidarity with Israel’s peace camp, and its efforts to bring that country’s elected leadership to meaningful negotiations with the Palestinians, and salutes the majority of Israel’s population that continues to aspire to a peaceful two-state solution to its conflict with the Palestinian people.
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