Pressure builds on Israel to drop West Bank land grab
The Israel-Palestine conflict goes back seven decades but the maximum damage to a two-state solution has been done in the last four years under US President Donald Trump. The US has blindly supported Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and Tel Aviv's control of the Golan Heights that it captured in 1967. Trump entrusted his son-in-law Jared Kushner to strike the 'deal of the century' that did grave injustice to Palestinians and their hopes of securing their own state. Netanyahu has since been emboldened and his plan to formally annex parts of the West Bank and Jordan Valley does not bode well for the peace and stability in the region. It could provoke Palestinian anger, and strike a final blow to the two-state solution. Palestinians have been living like refugees in their own land, without rights. Life is often punctuated, rather dictated, by calls made in Knesset, like it is happening now. The spatial limitations on a future Palestinian state are being defined through illegal land grabs.
Besides, formalisation of annexation does little to promote normalisation of ties with the Arab world. The Trump administration is seeing Israel's move as an extension of its peace plan in the region. Kushner has cast doubts on Palestinian ability to self-govern and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is with Israel and said that the country has the right to retain some of the West Bank. Since 1967, successive administrations in Washington have supported Israel by turning a blind eye to encroachments in East Jerusalem and Golan Heights. Over the years, the US has quietly accepted such moves as the status quo, which has emboldened Tel Aviv. Europe and the UN should pressure the Israeli government to drop its plans now that the US, Netanyahu's main backer, has chickened out. Arab-Israeli ties should be reset, but the onus is on Tel Aviv not to blow the opportunity.