In January 2012, the Israeli group Peace Now, issued a report, Torpedoing the Two State Solution – The Strategy of the Netanyahu Government, setting out the record levels of illegal Israeli settlement construction in 2011 in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its clear objective of strangling any hope for a viable Palestinian state under the two-state solution scenario. Another report, written by European Union (EU) Heads of Mission in Jerusalem and Ramallah in 2011, and leaked to the press this January, comes to much the same conclusion after analysing the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from what is known as Area C in the West Bank. The Heads of Mission report expresses the concerns of European imperialism over developments in Israel and its potentially destabilising effects on the wider region. It also points to a developing rift with US imperialism over the issue. What is clear from both reports is that the strategy of the ‘two-state solution’ is a political dead end for the Palestinians. BOB SHEPHERD reports.
Peace Now shows that in 2011 there was a record 20% rise in housing unit construction starts in the colonial settlements in the West Bank, not including East Jerusalem. This means that at least 3,500 housing units were being built in the West Bank during 2011. Since November 2011 the Israeli Ministry of Housing has announced tenders for the construction of a further 1,201 housing units in the West Bank and 2,057 in East Jerusalem. Peace Now says that plans for 3,690 housing units in East Jerusalem have been approved, and that three areas in East Jerusalem are being targeted by Israel for such construction.
Peace Now argues that in a deliberate attempt to create ‘facts on the ground’, the Israeli state is expanding settlement construction on land that would be crucial to a future viable Palestinian state. These include areas between East Jerusalem and the settlement of Ma’ale Adumim, development of which would virtually split the West Bank in two, the area around Bethlehem to the south of Jerusalem, and the expansion of the Ariel settlement to the north of the West Bank. During 2011 the Israeli government also recognised 11 new settlements in the West Bank by making official the squatting/stealing of Palestinian land by some 2,300 Israeli settlers.
The EU Heads of Mission report addresses Israel’s control of Area C in the West Bank. This includes ‘crucial natural resources and land for the future demographic and economic growth of a viable Palestinian state’ and comprises 62% of the land area in the West Bank. It has remained under Israeli control since the signing of the Oslo Agreement in 1993. All 124 illegal Israeli settlements are within Area C. The Heads of Mission say that Israel has ‘continuously undermined’ the Palestinian population in this area and through its actions is ‘rapidly closing the window’ on a two-state solution. They demonstrate that Israel is engaged in a policy of ‘forced transfer of the native population’ from Area C – in other words, ethnic cleansing. The settler population now stands at 310,000 while the Palestinian population has fallen to an estimated 150,000. In 1967, there were 200-320,000 Palestinians in just one part of what is now Area C alone, the agriculture-rich Jordan