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Settling reality
An Israeli man walks on a pavement in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem December 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
An Israeli man walks on a pavement in the West Bank Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim, near Jerusalem December 2, 2012. (REUTERS/Baz Ratner)
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The West condemned Israel’s settlement plan Monday in no uncertain terms, but the 3,000 planned new homes are just the latest in a well-established policy by the Jewish state.

The takeover of Palestinian land seized in 1967 via settlements has been a creeping plan by Israel to change the reality of the situation over the past 45 years.

As that reality changes, it becomes more and more difficult to reverse, except willingly by Israel or by another war, and as a result any kind of two-state solution moves closer to impossibility.

Yet the world has watched this happen. Israel’s reaction to the condemnation meted out by Europe and the United Nations Monday shows what little respect it has for their pressure. Even criticism from its staunchest ally, the United States, failed to dent its determination to continue with the plans.

If it truly wants to have any impact on Israeli policy the West must do more than offer empty warnings and censure, however ‘strong’ they may be.

The refusal to do so makes these countries an accomplice in war crimes perpetrated by Israel and by extension in the inevitable fallout from this policy.

There should be no illusion that Israel’s every decision to expand settlements is part of a strategic maneuver to dissect Palestine so that it can never be a single entity. The settlements are constructed with the additional effect of blocking Palestine from having control over natural resources, and therefore restricting the quality of life of the Palestinians.

This latest act of piracy comes in tandem with Israel’s announcement that it will withhold $100 million of tax revenue from Palestine, money that is rightfully theirs.

This huge-scale blackmail goes on under the eyes of the supposedly civilized world, a flagrant example of its double standards when it comes to respecting the rights of all citizens equally. These double standards will have a long-lasting impact. Israeli’s settlements are being firmly planted and along with them the seeds of more hatred as Palestinians are further denied their rights.

If the West and the U.S. want peace, then they must act accordingly to push Israel away from policies that destroy that possibility, otherwise they remain as accomplices to the ongoing violence.

That means actions that hit Israel where it hurts: suspending arms, trade, aid and imposing sanctions. History has shown us that this works. President Dwight Eisenhower pressured Israel in 1956 into withdrawal from the Sinai, with demands, rather than condemnations.

The West claims to want peace in the region, yet it turns a blind eye to Israeli behavior that renders that very peace impossible. Peace cannot be achieved via words; it requires a concerted effort. It requires the world to stand up to Israel, to deny its ability to control Palestine by stealth.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 04, 2012, on page 7.
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