CMEP Newsletter: “Is the Two-state Solution Still Possible?
Churches for Middle East Peace executive director, Amb. Warren Clark, reflects on this question
At the end of 2011, according to one Israeli estimate, there were 343,000 Israeli settlers resident in the West Bank, about 13% of the total West Bank population. Reflecting strong government incentives and subsidies, the permanent settler population increased 4.3% for the year, more than twice the 1.8% rate of population increase for Israel east of the 1967 lines. Construction starts for the year rose 20%, including 650 housing units located east of the route of the separation barrier.
Beginning last November there has been a surge of announcements of new Israeli construction plans in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, often timed to coincide with external political events such as the Palestinian Authority’s application for membership in UNESCO. Just this month plans were announced to construct 600 new housing units deep inside the West Bank, far east of the 1967 lines. This would transform what had been a hilltop outpost into a new settlement.
In response to the growing constituency of settlers and their supporters in his Likud party’s ranks, some of whom support annexation by Israel of the entire West Bank, the Prime Minister told his party’s convention in late January that he was “committed to settlement in the Land of Israel.” He has ordered the Minster of Justice to explore ways to legalize settlements built on private Palestinian land and set up a commission that is expected to declare that many outposts in the West Bank that are illegal under Israeli law are now legal.
The two-state solution, as usually defined, includes a viable, contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. However, the recently announced plans for expansion of Israeli settlements in neighborhoods of East Jerusalem and its suburbs would cut off Palestinian East Jerusalem neighborhoods from each other and from the West Bank, making the establishment of a Palestinian capital there next to impossible.
Click here to continue reading this essay, as well as “On the Hill,” an advocacy update by CMEP’s Deputy Director, Ellen Massey.