December 13, 2018

Canadian Friends of Peace Now is appalled that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has used a recent Palestinian terror attack to make an unconscionable vow. Speaking at the opening of a traffic interchange in the central West Bank on Dec. 11, Netanyahu not only promised to build more settlements in response to terror, but to make sure “not a single Jew will be uprooted from his home” as long as he is prime minister.

Without doubt, the terror incident Netanyahu was responding to – the drive-by shooting of Israeli civilians on the West Bank leading to the death of a newborn baby and the serious wounding of other people – was horrific. Israel must do all that it can to bring perpetrators and abettors of such acts to justice and to protect its citizens, whatever side of the Green Line they live on.
But promising more settlements merely ensures it becomes ever more difficult to eventually negotiate a political solution to the conflict with the Palestinians. Vowing that no settler will ever be uprooted is an unabashed invitation for more illegal settlements, squatter actions, land grabs and other shady dealings by the powerful settler movement. Such statements give the lie to the Israeli government’s supposed openness to a two-state solution. For how can there be a Palestinian state if Jews receive carte blanche to build throughout the West Bank? Netanyahu’s tough talk signals he intends for the occupation to continue without end – a bleak prospect for Palestinians but also for Israelis.
It should be noted that the Israeli prime minister cannot promise that no Jew will ever be uprooted from his or her home on the West Bank. The Israeli courts still have a say in the matter of illegal construction. And so, on top of everything else, Netanyahu’s loose talk implies a desire to thwart the rule of law.
Settlement building promises and settler appeasing vows do nothing to staunch further terror attacks. On the contrary, they are likely to provoke more.