Inside the Middle East
January 11, 2012
Posted: 1632 GMT
New houses are seen in West Bank Israeli settlement of Qedar, on the outskirts of Jerusalem (Getty)
New houses are seen in West Bank Israeli settlement of Qedar, on the outskirts of Jerusalem (Getty)

As Israelis and Palestinians attempted to give peace a chance this past week with a second Jordanian sponsored meeting of the two sides, a new report issued by an Israeli settlement watch dog organization is likely to further dim the unlikely prospect of any breakthrough between the parties.

Tuesday, the anti-settlement activist group Peace Now released a new report citing a 20% increase in the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in 2011. The report found that the number of plans for new Jewish homes in predominantly Arab East Jerusalem was at its highest number in a decade with over 3,600 housing units approved and preliminary plans made for another 2660.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday, Peace Now director, Yariv Oppenheimer, said, 2011 "will be remembered as the 'year of the settlers' regarding construction in the West Bank" and claimed the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was jeopardizing the possibility of a two-state solution.

The Israeli government described Peace Now’s figures as exaggerated and spokesman Mark Regev offered this pointed retort:

"The current Israeli government has been attacked by the leadership of the settlement movement for being the "worst government in Israel's history" when it comes to settlement construction. And it is indeed true that we have shown more restraint on the issue of settlement than any previous Israeli government. We initiated the unprecedented ten-month settlement moratorium and even since the conclusion of that moratorium we continue to exercise great restraint."

The highly contentious issue of Israeli construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - land the Palestinians seek for a future state - is one of the main sticking points preventing the full-scale resumption of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has declared repeatedly a peace deal with Israel will not be possible without a complete freeze on settlement building. The Israeli government maintains that Palestinians are merely using the settlement issue as an excuse not to engage in serious bilateral negotiations and that Palestinians seek instead to pursue unilateral action through international bodies like the United Nations.

Excuse or not, it would appear that few are holding out hope that the most current round of meetings between the two sides will lead anywhere.

Speaking to Middle East envoy Tony Blair Tuesday, veteran Palestinian politician and PLO executive committee member Hanan Ashrawi said, "Negotiations are just a means to an end. With the great disproportionateness in power between Palestine and Israel, Palestinians are still asked to negotiate with the occupying power to get permission from Israel to achieve freedom. Israeli policies are based on the theft of Palestinian land, resources and money. Unless Israel refrains from all illegal settlement activities and commits to 1967 borders, the Palestinian people will not return to negotiations."

Direct talks stalled in 2010 because of the settlement issue - and It would appear, for now at least, that 2012 is not likely to be remembered as the year of a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

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Filed under: General •Israel •Palestinians •Peace Talks •West Bank

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Fred IV   January 11th, 2012 6:03 pm ET

Building homes for your civillians is degrading peace talks? What about launching rockets at children???

moronic "article"

Peter Beck   January 11th, 2012 6:39 pm ET

Mark Regev's retort to Peace Now's figures is hollow. No matter who is elected Prime Minister in Israel, the relentless malignancy of the occupation continues without stopping, even as it did during Netanyahu's phony moratorium. This cancer will continue until Israel realizes it's dream of a "Greater Israel" because no one, including the US, has the will to stop them. We can't call it ethnic cleansing because Israel is our "friend."

Aviela, Proud Resident of Migron   January 11th, 2012 6:56 pm ET

Keidar is hardly on the outskirts of Jerusalem and, as far as I know, there is no building freeze going on at this point. It would be proper to make clear that you are speaking about barren hilltops and bisecting a country the size of New Jersey by negotiating with terrorists. So your point is...

dekel   January 11th, 2012 7:23 pm ET

This article has it all. It shows Israel as an evil ocuppier, on the other hand it tells about Israel attempts to engage into neogtiations(the halt), it doesn't mention any palestinian attempt to reach any neogtiaion(there were not any), and finishes the article with a rhetoric palestinian typical attitude that they will make no compromise of any kind.
My question is, 10 more month of freeze will make any difference?
Israelis understand the price of land and according to the last elections were willing to do so, by voting to Kadima. Even the elected right wind Likud made serious steps to express its seriousness.
So my second question is:
What palestinians are willing to bring to the table?

Remember   January 11th, 2012 8:23 pm ET

When the Palestinians demand that Israel withdraw from the Palestinian territory, I get really confused.
Please remind me –
When was the west bank ever a sovereign Palestinian state?
When was there ever a Palestinian state?
When did the Palestinians become a uniquely defined people?
Did all of this happen in 1948 when the west bank was still Jordan? Or maybe in 1967 when Israel took the west bank from Jordan after being attacked by them? Palestinians are so complicated…..

Leslie   January 11th, 2012 11:51 pm ET

It means 3000.000 or so Palestinians will continue to live in ghettos, checkpoints, and aphartheid system in their own land. Thank you Obama, thank you Congress for allowing this to happen.

Norm   January 11th, 2012 11:59 pm ET

If you want to negotiate then SIT AND NEGOTIATE and stop setting terms before it even begins.

If you want Israel to stop building BEFORE negotiation starts- then stop ALL building during negotiation – ISRAELI AND PALESTINIAN.

By demanding that Israel stop building as an enterence to the negotiation, the Palestinians are attempting to slighly set precedent. Each time they take a step they demand more gifts....they will keep doing this until they will kindly ask Israel to step into the sea so that they can start negotiations on tel aviv and jerusalem.

The West must start to understand that in the Middle East there exists a different code of ethics than in the West when it comes to negotiation. Attempting to pretend that they will change this has proven wrong in almost every Middle East negotiation in which the West (US and Europe) were involved. The hope to bring the peace in the Middle East has blinded Europe into pretty much agreeing to anything the Palestinians have asked for. You don't parent a child this way, and you surely don't negotiate peace this way.

Achmed the Dead Terrorist   January 12th, 2012 6:40 am ET

Where is the CNN picture of the illegal building by the Palestinian Arabs? There is 10x more than by Israelis.

Sorry, Leslie, but the Palestinian Arabs are just squatters on land that has belonged to Jews for 3700 years. We never left, and we never ceded our rights to the invading Muslims. Go back and read your history.

Kayla   January 12th, 2012 7:21 am ET

There would be no suicide attacks if there wasn't an occupation, humiliation and degradation of an entire people. The problem is that although Israel was entitled to build a wall of separation on its own territory – along the green line – it used its security argument as a pretext for redefining its national boundary to include parts of the West Bank and expanding settlements.

Lands defined as owned by the State of Israel can be leased only to Jews. The State of Israel has turned most of the land, whether in Israel or in the West Bank, into "state land." After these lands are defined as owned by the State of Israel they can be leased only to Jews. The right to lease such lands is denied to all non-Jews, without a single exception. This denial is enforced by placing all state lands under the administration of the Jewish National Fund, a branch of the World Zionist Organization, whose racist statutes forbid their lease or any other use to non-Jews.

sam tleel   January 12th, 2012 8:28 am ET

its time that the palestinians get all their lands back...from the sea to the river...Palestine is for the palestinians...not the germans, not the polish, not the british.not the new yorkers.
The 4.5 million Palestinian Refugees shall and will God willing go back to their homes and villages
The israelis destroyed over 300 villages and distroyed homes g
Let them know we are going back home...organize your selves back to Egypt....said by Moses father...If any one can name him...

The light   January 12th, 2012 12:22 pm ET

No amount of propaganda hides the truth.
No race, godly or otherwise, claims any divine right over your house, turns you out of it, demolishes it, builds on it and calls you illegimate and then expects you to smile, laugh and negotiate the return of your house.
God never justifies or permits injustice so israel must be evil. It is clear, plain, obvious, evident, undeniable and verifiable. I wonder why Americas axis of evil never included it.

noah   January 12th, 2012 3:52 pm ET

its amazing how the world can just let israel take land that is not theirs, and hold a blind eye to everything that is going on in palestine. Israel should be ashamed of what they are doing to the palestinian people , and understand that one day we will overcome evil and take back what is OURS.

Bill   January 12th, 2012 4:38 pm ET

The Palestinian demands for a settlement freeze are NOT a pre-condition. They are an obligation of international law which is clearly stated in the 49th article of the 4th Geneva Convention. In addition UNSC resolution 465 clearly calls the settlements "Invalid" and demands that Israel remove them. The 2004 ICJ ruling at the Hague was unaminous that the Israeli settlements are illegal. A real settlement freeze is an obligation of international law and NOT a pre-condition of the Palestinians!

Zak   January 12th, 2012 5:23 pm ET

Build, baby, build...

Palestinians should settle for less than 67' borders or end up citizens in the Israeli State.
They who started the war AND lost should not dictate the terms.

Jew   January 12th, 2012 11:08 pm ET

Arab started 3 aggressive wars and each time Israel defend itself and won, but Arab still “want territory for Palestinian state”. Aggressor should pay the price, like Germans and Japan, they lost big part of territory after WW2.

William   January 15th, 2012 9:32 am ET

2 million Arabs live in freedom, democracy with no threat of being shot for not having beards or wearing miniskirts and that includes gays!
Where is that country? Syria, Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia????
Since 1948 the only place the true Arab spring has occurred is in Israel.
Thousands of civilians butchered in Syria and all these so called Palestinians, aka freeloaders can talk about is Jews building homes.
They have yet to send a blanket to Syria from the millions it receives in aid! No sharing or act of kindness to a fellow Arab?
Israel does!
Keep building Israel, the only vibrant economy and democracy in the middle east.
The PA came about in 1964 to liquidate the Jews, so why would israel return to 1967 borders?
No one can negotiate with hysterics and baby stabbers who invent fantasy worlds and new history every day to satisfy CNN, the worlds leading news inventor!

miriam   January 15th, 2012 2:24 pm ET


The Fourth Geneva Conventions were never created to refer to situations such as Israel wrt the WB. This has been stated explicitly by those involved in the writing of the Conventions.

UNSC resolutions are not international law and under Chapter 6, are non-binding.

The ICJ ruling was advisory, not binding.

The truth is that under International Law, Israeli control of the WB is absolutely LEGAL and that the construction and re-construction of Jewish communities is not illegal.

Anti-Israel rhetoric does not only deceive you but also international leaders. The fact that you quote from UN bodies is not surprising since the organization has lost all moral legitimacy which only harms those who are genially disadvantaged in the world.

miriam   January 15th, 2012 2:40 pm ET

It is no surprise that construction in settlements in 2011 appears to have increased since the figures are really those covering two years since for most of 2010 there was virtually no construction due to the construction freeze.

Hanan Ashrawi can ask herself why Israel has to negotiate relinquishing any land which was acquired in defensive battle as has been the case in numerous places around the world where land does not have to be given up especially to an authority that never had control.
Theft is more accurately the claiming of property/land under Israeli control that was never Palestinian Arab state and declaring irrelevant former Jordanian-Israeli armistice lines as a border.

Nevertheless, Israel has been willing to negotiate all these issues in order to make peace, despite the weakness of the Palestinian claims, strengthened only by myth. It's too bad that even if an agreement was made, the Palestinians have stated clearly that it is only the first step towards the destruction of the Jewish state.

klaus   January 16th, 2012 8:57 pm ET

Be careful. The Palestinians are quickly realizing that it is better to throw their guns on the border, throw up their hands, and raise the Israeli flag in their towns. The Israelis and the evangelicals in this country will not be able to stop unarmed Arabs walking en masse into Jaffa and Tel Aviv and declaring a democratic binational state. Sorry, too late to create Lesotho.

Mardell Graver   January 18th, 2012 11:17 am ET

Hey there Nice publish

Michael Kaye   January 18th, 2012 9:14 pm ET

There was a Palestine, with Palestinians, with Palestinian currency and passports.

Under the guise of the 67 war, The Israelies stole the rest of the land.

Israel has not right to take and build on that land. They need to adhere to international law and give it back.

miriam   January 22nd, 2012 10:53 am ET

Michael Kaye,

There was a British Mandate which they named Palestine around 1920, named after the province created by the Romans after they destroyed Jerusalem and Judea and exiled the Jews. The residents were Palestinian Jews, Palestinian Arabs and Palestinian others.

The Mandatory passports, currency and stamps etc were issued by the British with English, Arabic and Hebrew, much like many official documents in Israel today.

The Arab residents of the Mandatory Palestine disliked the title "Palestinian" was too "Jewish"!!!!

adidas   January 22nd, 2012 10:13 pm ET

Michael Kaye- you are hallucinating, you post lies as facts and cannot prove any of them.

Omar   January 24th, 2012 9:13 pm ET

adidas- I sugest you check your facts before telling somebody there's are false.

sameh   January 27th, 2012 7:44 pm ET

See the elephant is dying and die a very sad situation

Yusil   March 13th, 2012 2:50 am ET

If the US had not veto all the UN resolutions against Israel we would not be talking about this issue. It’s an Israeli joke. Get it.

Barry Lessinger   March 17th, 2012 5:16 pm ET

It amazes me the lack of history knowledge shown by readers, yhe so called West Bank was and still is part of Jordan. In 1967 when the Arab states attacked Israel, they told the Arabs living in Israel to leave until Israel was defeated. They are in refugee camps because no Arab states would allow them in. How does one negotiate with people who belive you have no right to exist. Jerusalem will be Israels capital and Israel is the only country in the middle east that permits freedom of religion. That is not possible in in Islamist states since non muslims are permitted no freedom.
Wake up, the US has been at wa with islam since the 1700's and until islam is willing to allow non believers freedom, it ( islam) nedds to be destroyed

The Bear

miriam   March 25th, 2012 2:37 pm ET


If there were not such a disproportionate number of resolutions against Israel, virtually all reflecting the corrupted morals and hypocrisy of their sponsors, there would be little discussion of the issues.

Fortuately. UN resolutions are not law and those UNSC resolutions concerning Israel are non-binding.

Juju   April 7th, 2012 6:13 pm ET

Israel breaks international law regularly, and in all honesty, no matter who the land belongs to, the fact of the matter is that thousands of Palestinian people are being unwillingly forced to leave their homes.. there's just something wrong with that. I understand the notion that Jews have been persecuted for centuries and that they unquestionably deserve their own piece of land, but maybe they could try doing so without ruining so many other lives and creating an entire new refugee crisis?

miriam   May 9th, 2012 4:54 pm ET


There are not "thousands of Palestinians" being forced to leave their homes.

It is amazing how even a myth can be exaggerated.

The only people who are unwillingly being forced to leave their homes are Israelis and Palestinians alike who have built homes illegally or who haven't paid heir rents. In some cases, almost entirely Israeli, families have been forced to leave their homes even though they purchased and built them legally.

Similarly, "Israel breaks International Law regularly" is also a myth which is repeated so frequently it is no wonder people actually believe it.
In all honesty it is shameful their is so much dishonesty related to this issue.

Yusil   May 10th, 2012 8:38 pm ET

Miriam you are mistaken, UN resolutions are law if not for the US veto.

Yusil   May 10th, 2012 9:04 pm ET

You are definitely not a scholar of history. The state of Israel was an artificial creation of the victors of WWII who did not want the Diaspora of Jews to swamp their countries. As result the local inhabitants in Palestine were forcefully removed or murdered. The premise that a people have the right to land on the basis of a book based on fantasy and historical legend is not legal. The Palestinians today are refused building permits by the Israelis for exactly that reason. If you do not have legal documentation why does that not apply to the Israelis, but only to the Locals who have been living there for centuries?
Try acquiring the land of someone if you do not have legal documents. The Government in power can always make laws to justify legalities and ignore International Law.

miriam   May 13th, 2012 1:33 pm ET


UN resolutions are not law whether the US proposes, opposes , abstains or vetoes resolution votes.

The treaties and resolutions for the re-establishment of the Jewish homeland were signed decades before WW2.

The fact that Jewish immigration to the territory increased from the mid-19th century onwards may well have been a result of diaspora communities suffering at the hands of their host nations but at the same time there was a renewal of nationalism among many developed nations at the time and Jews were not an exception.

Incidentally, there was an increase in Arab and others immigration into the territory at the same time although their migration was economic as opposed to nationalist. Many of those however are now labelled "Palestinians" with "centuries" of ties to the land.

In 1948, Arab leaders encouraged Arab Palestinians to leave while their armies and militias defeated the Jewish Palestinians. The Arabs did not win or achive their objective.Populations of both Jews and Arabs lost their homes and were forced to move.

Palestinians under Palestinian control receive permits to build from the PA who also destroy homes and deny permits if they want.
Palestinians under Israeli control can apply for permits in the same way as Israelis do, with the same proof of ownership necessary.

Yusil   May 15th, 2012 5:47 pm ET

To all the Zionists

Many claim that Israelies have a claim to Palestine because it was created for them by the British. Again, this is a flawed argument, since the Palestinians were never consulted. While it is true that some (and only some) Palestinians sold land to immigrating Jews, the majority of Palestinian land has been forcefully seized by Israel (take the Daer Yassin ethnic cleansing for example). Legally, Palestinians have a much stronger claim to Palestine.

Perhaps the most often used argument is that Israel is the only Democracy in the Middle East. However, the definition of "Democracy" is a government by the majority of the people. Since the majority of people living in Palestine are Palestinians (outnumbering the Israelies nearly 10 to 1), it would seem that there would be a Palestinian government- not an Israeli one. By the very definition, Israel is not a Democracy, since the majority does not have a say in the government. Some would argue that Israel has welcomed Palestinians to become Israelies, but again, this argument is flawed. Israel is aware that due to the Palestinian perception of honor, Palestinians will generally refuse to become Israelies. Israel's encouragement is purely for the sake of appearing Democratic. If the Palestinians actually did all become Israelies, they could literally vote the government away from the Jewish-Israeli minority.
Furthermore, Israel, despite its constant denials, orders actions and legislates laws that are highly Un-Democratic. Israel uses an agency called the Shin Bet as strikebreakers, torturers, and intimidators. It is also against Israeli law to own, use, or wear a Palestinian flag or any reproduction of a Palestinian flag.
In short, Israel is NOT a Democracy.

miriam   May 20th, 2012 10:37 am ET


You are absolutely right that the claim that Israel has a right to exist because the British created it is flawed argument, but not for the reasons you give.

The British recognized that the Jewish people had a right to their religious, historic and cultural homeland and at a time when Jews were victims of violence in Europe and elsewhere, well before the rise of Nazism but at a time when nationalism was on the rise.
They recognized that Jews had maintained a presence in the territory for centuries and that immigration was increasing and resulting in the land's development.

They also recognized that as a result of that development there was an increase in immigration of others from Arabia, North Africa other regions of the recently dissolved Ottoman Empire.

Lands bought by Jews were from Ottoman landowners, who had often employed migrant laborers from Beduin populations.

When the British were given their portion of the former Ottoman Empire, there was no country called Palestine, nor was there a Jordan or a Lebanon or a Syria, Saudi Arabis, or Iraq.
The only nationalist movement in the region was Zionism.

There are not 10 times the number of Palestinians as there are Jews!
Democracies grant voting rights to their citizens. The Palestinians in the WB and Gaza are not citizens since the territories were never annexed. In Israel, most Arabs have citizenship and in Jerusalem all Arabs were offered citizenship in 1967 but not all accepted it. Nevertheless, even if they had all accepted citizenship they would not have voted out a Jewish majority government.

On Israel' independence day, Palestinian flags were flying in Israel, students demonstrated last week in Israeli universities with Palestinians flags, Israeli Arab demos often feature the fags too. To many it is distasteful knowing that the symbol represents the destruction of Israel more than a two-state solution, but it is not illegal.

Yusil   May 22nd, 2012 6:54 pm ET


The Imperial powers redrew the map of the ME at their behest after WWI without considering the local inhabitants, their culture or religions. They have not forgotten the disastrous campaigns of the Crusades.
So the Crusades continue today.

Me   June 8th, 2012 6:15 pm ET

Remember: You are right, never. The rest of the world thinks it is time they do. The same rest of the world that once supported, (and continue to support) a Jewish state when you were without one for 2,000 years.
The issue is not to slowdown the land grabbing, is to stop it.
Palestinians ans Israelis worse enemies are not eachother, but their unconditional cicarios.

joshua cripps   August 10th, 2012 2:48 pm ET

israel. the promised land. live by the law of god....... or leave

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