Many Millennials have exaggerated the outcome of the 2016 Presidential election to be akin to the “end of the world” or at least, the end of democracy as we know it. While it’s easy to look at the inward conflicts this election provided, the global implications have been largely glossed over. Specifically, the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on Jan. 20th is sure to be the final peg in the coffin that is a free Palestine.
On Dec. 23, 2016 the United Nations Security council voted in a 14-0 fashion that Israel must stop the building of all settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to the Security Council Resolution with a resounding “no”, and has even gone as far as to say that he will remove amicable relations between Israel and any of the nations that voted in favor of the resolution.
The United States, long-time ally of Israel, has consistently voted against any resolution that does not back Israel; however, in a historic vote, the United States decided to abstain from voting, which allowed the measure to pass. Netanyahu was severely disappointed in the United States’ decision not to veto the resolution when they had the power to do so, and has vocally accused the Obama Administration of orchestrating the results of the vote.
To understand the implications of the Security Council vote, it is imperative to understand the debate over the legality of settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. In 1967, the Israeli forces launched a premeditated war with an Arab Coalition including Egypt, Syria and Jordan. The historic event, also known as the 6-Day War, resulted in a near doubling of Israel’s land. Israel began its occupation of the Syrian Golan Heights, Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, Jordan’s West Ban, the annexed of East Jerusalem (the crown jewel of the Israeli military success) and the declared of the united Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Regardless of the astonishing military feat, the international community by-and-large agreed that the land taken was to be returned. However, since the 1967 war, the only land which was returned was the land taken from the Sinai region, upon a peace deal with Egypt. The land was returned in exchange for the recognition of Israel as a sovereign nation.
At the time of its capture, not a single Israeli lived in the area defined as the West Bank. By 1968, however, a small group of ideologically driven Jews moved themselves out into the West Bank. They felt a religious tie to the land which compelled them to set roots there in order to solidify Israel’s claim. Although this land was supposed to be returned, the Israeli government allowed these right-wing Jews to “temporarily” settle in the West Bank.
Since that day, there are now over 400,000 Israelis living in the West Bank in illegal settlements. The total becomes a resounding 800,000 Israelis if one looks at all of the territory occupied in the 1967 War (including the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem).
With each new block of settlements introduced, the hope of the Palestinians for a two-state solution diminishes. If settlements were made close to the Israeli border, a two-state solution might still be possible; the largest Israeli settlements could be annexed into Israel, and the remaining settlements abandoned and the land returned to Palestine.
Unfortunately, many of the largest settlements are deep within the borders of the West Bank; this makes it nearly impossible to visualize a resolution in which large settlements are annexed by Israel. The amount of security necessary to protect the borders of these settlements would be incomprehensible, and therefore the continued settlement expansion process is further emphasizing Israel’s unwillingness to see a two-state solution.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya’alon’s statements about the continued settlement expansion have alarmed the international community. It is disheartening to think that the committee that supposedly has the most tangible power in the United Nations, the Security Council, can make a resolution which is still not abided by. Representatives of 15 nations gathered in room and came together to pass a resolution ending this human rights atrocity, and yet it was all to no avail. Regardless of the resolution, Israel has vocally expressed their intention to continue and expand settlements, hopefully with the full support of newly elected President Trump.
Gulrukh Haroon is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.